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Re: Notes from the first day of practice
- The passing phase turns to the throw-it-behind-the-receiver drill. Sweed makes a nice catch on a ball behind him. He looks to be more flexible than the other receivers (other than Holmes, who is head and shoulders that best athlete on the field. He can make his body do whatever the hell he wants)
- Willie Reid bobbles a ball thrown behind him. He is making very solid catches on the balls that have him squared up to the QB or going across the field, but sideline stuff is definitely not his forte.
- Jeremy Bloom is no receiver. I lost count at 8 balls in a row bobbled. It’s not the passes where he is facing the Qb that are a problem for him, he seems to do okay with those. But when he’s asked to run down field on something like a fly, out or post pattern, he consistently bobbles the ball. He will either make this team, strictly as a punt returner because he is THAT much better than the other returners we have, or he will not be on the team, because he is no receiver. If we were in a crunch, and needed him to step in, I would assume the game was lost.
- Heath Miller fires out and hits the sled with authority. Sorry if I don’t give more reports of what Miller’s doing. Just assume that, whatever it is, he is doing it right, and doing it better than anyone on the team. I want to concentrate on the ones who are in question.
- The running backs go down to the right end of the field for foot-quickness drills. Believe it or not, Mendenhall has the quickest feet of any of them in the short shuttle where they quick-step through the cones. Mewelde Moore is a close second.
- Moore is the quickest in cutting drills when the spread the drills apart a bit and have them run full speed and zig-zag through. Parker looks a bit awkward. Even more than he used to. I believe he’s not 100% yet.
- Meanwhile, in the passing drills, Willie Reid is pulling in everything thrown his way. I have to confess that I thought Reid was gonna be one of the first cuts, but he looks to be the most improved player on the roster, and right now, I’d say he is the 3rd receiver. Will wonders never cease?
- Bloom makes a nice catch on a throw by Batch that’s a bit over his head (not hard to do, he’s short), but, again, it’s on a pass where he was facing the QB.
- Sweed is running the routes, I suppose, but they ain’t pretty. Not only that, but his hands aren’t the softest I’ve seen. He is the diametric opposite of Bloom. He makes the catches over his shoulder like the fly and post look easy, smooth as butter. But when he tries to hook or cut in, not only does he run a very awkward route, his hands stiffen up and he gets nervous. He likes to take it down field, but doesn’t seem to like it over the middle. He looks to be in a battle for the fourth receiver at this time, nit the third. So, if you have him on your fantasy team, I’d think about dropping him, because he’s not gonna do us much good, other than Hail-Mary type situations, until the 6-8th week of the season.
- Holmes is ridiculously quick at stopping and turning. I don’t know who the hell can cover him outside of the elite five or six corners in this league. I know I complained about his complaint about practice…forget it. He’s in GREAT shape, and he’s amazing. If only the rest of our guys were in this good of shape.
- Nate Washington gets open on a ten yard crossing route, then drops the ball….Anyone surprised? The fans heckled him a bit after that. I don’t like to hear hacklers, but in Nate’s case, I’ll make an exception. Damn, he is so good at getting open, if only he could catch.
- Reid catches another one on a curl. He’s looking like a Steeler version on Welker right about now. I still can’t get over the transformation. Whatever he did in the off season, I wish he’d drop some on Washington.
- We move to the TE & RB blocking the LB drill. Arnold Harrison rips by Jonathan Dekker with a rip move. Dekker’s arms seem too weak to handle a strong rip.
- Donovan Woods does a great swim move to blow by Parker. Not exactly what I was hoping for, since Willie’s gonna have a lot of blocking to do this year.
- Carey Davis stoned Patrick Bailey who tried a swim move and wound up getting rolled 5 yards down field by the rib.
- Gary Russel drove Anthony Trucks to the ground. Trucks tried to rip around Russel and got caught off balance.
- Harrison owned Sherroz. Blew by him like he wasn’t even there.
- Frazier beat Lasko with an outside speed rush.
- Hmm, Mendenhall stoned Foote. Got under his pads nicely and stood him up.
- Farrior beat Justin Vincent with a speed rush. Vincent just couldn’t lift his feet quickly enough to slide out to meet him.
- Arnold Harrison bull rushed Parker and had him going backwards on roller skates.
- Carey Davis stoned Donovan Woods. Caught his square in the chest and stood him up. I’m not a big Davis fan, but that was a nice block.
- Over on the passing drills, Dallas Baker made a wonderful catch on a ball that Batch threw way high. Fifteen yards down field, Baker skied in the seam and snagged it out of the air. The ball would have been intercepted had he not caught it.
- Back on the blocking drills, Harrison bull rushes Dekker and drives him right back into the QB. I don’t think Dekker has the leverage to get down as low as Harrison is coming in. I think it’s a problem if Dekker is expected to block shorter LB’s.
- Mendenhall gives up a good bit of ground on an Arnold Harrison bull rush, but eventually stiffens and holds his ground. Probably more ground given up than you like to see. But his balance when he’s blocking is impressive.
- Cody Boyd shows very soft hands on a catch on a curl pattern. I was just starting to wonder why he was here.
- Mewelde Moore stones Larry Foote. Foote thought he could plow over Moore, I suppose because Moore is small, but Moore gets good leverage underneath and actually got Foote off his feet a bit. Perfect form.
- Humpal tries tossing Russel aside, but Russel holds his ground and stops Humpal dead in his tracks.
- Andre Frazier fakes outside, then bull rushes Billy Lasko. A bit embarrassing for Lasko. It was ugly. He ended up flailing in the dust.
- Timmons absolutely rolls Mendenhall. Timmons got his arm under Mendenhalls, and picked him up them bull rushed him, just carrying him into the backfield.
- Arnold Harrison puts a wonderful spin move on Justin Vincent. Best spin move of anyone on the team.
- And we move on to the 1st scrimmage of the evening:
- 1st play: Ben drops back, Woodley blows right by Colon and Aaron Smith bull rushes Simmons to collapse the pocket. Ben doesn’t have time to get his last step in before the play is over. Sack.
- 2nd play: Ben almost drops back, Woodley blows right by Colon. Play is over before it started. Jesus H. Christ. What the hell is Woodley doing? It’s difficult to see how he’s getting in so quickly. I’ve never seen anything like this.
- 3rd play: Timmons stunts around the left tackle and is in before the play starts. Left tackle was engaged with the end, and there was nobody there to block Timmons.
- 4th play: Ben drops back and gets a nice pocket. Sweed has a step down the right sideline, the pass is nice and high, just right. McFadden tips it away at the last second with one of those leaping swats where his legs are spread out, the left arm is out and the right hand reaches up and tips it away by a fingernail. Beautiful play by McFadden. Seed MAY have had that ball, if he’d come back for it a bit. He may have underestimated McFadden’s recovery speed.
- 5th play: The offense tries to dump it out into the flat to Spaeth, but Timmons is there just as the ball arrives with great reaction, and puts a lick on Spaeth just to let him know he’s there. Timmons is quietly letting the offense know to stay away from his side.
- 6th play: Willie Reid comes out of the slot and beats Deshea for a nice ten yard curl. Is this the same freakin’ Willie Reid? I take back everything I said about him.
- 7th play: Donovan Woods blows right up the middle (can’t tell who’s fault) and snuffs the play out before it starts. Dixon is in now, and he trows into triple coverage anyway.
- 8th play: Martavious Prince throws his man aside and is in the backfield before the pass can get off.
- 9th play: Finally Ben has a nice pocket and throws a pretty 10 yard in to Cody Boyd.
- 10th play: Marvel stones Keisel and Ben has some nice time to throw a 15 yard out to Ward. At this point, I can confidently say that Marvel is back. He’s just a touch rusty, but he is back and we have a left tackle again. That part of the line won’t be a problem, it will be the right side. And, Kemo is not playing at this point. Not sure why. In his place, my arch nemesis, Trai Essex actually looks pretty good. He looks to have finally lost the baby fat, looks stronger, and seems to be more focused. Is it a contract year?
- 11th play: Safety blitz over the right tackle, Max Starks at this point, gets to the QB before the play can get off.
- 12th play: Ike has Holmes covered, Deshea has Ward covered. Ben throws it away. That’s twice Ben has thrown it away. Let’s hope the Kenny Anderson teachings are taking effect.