By Brian Clark
Today was a very humid out there for the players, but lucky for them the sun stayed tucked behind the clouds for the majority of the practice. Despite that fact, it must have been tough to be in the pads. Some of the drills that took place in todayâ€™s practice were:
â€¢ 11 v 11 offense v defense
â€¢ 1 v 1 tackling drill
â€¢ Kickoff coverage/return teams
â€¢ 11 v 11 offense v defense
â€¢ O-line v D-line rush drills
â€¢ Receivers v LB/Secondary coverage
â€¢ 11 v 11 offense v defense
â€¢ 2 minute drill
Today there were many 11 v 11 drills, where the ball handler was down by first contact. On the first play of the practice, Brick false started and went for a lap. While on his run he was going a bit slow, and Brian Schottenheimer yelled at him to pick it up and actually run the laps. Otherwise they just practiced some handoffs to Jones and Leon, and light defensive pressure
In the 1 v 1 tackling drill, the defensive special teams player tried to maintain the runner. Evan Prall had 3 really nice moves juking out the potential defender. He showed good speed. Stuckey made a nice juke and broke Stacy Tuttâ€™s ankles as Tutt stuck out his leg to try to trip him up as he was falling to the ground.
During the kickoff coverage drill, Nugent was kicking the ball off from the 20 yard line and was easily getting the ball between the goal line and the 5 yard line with decent hang time. This means that a majority of these balls would be at the least, in the end zone, with a few most likely becoming un-returnable. When they threw in an onside kick, Nugentâ€™s kick was textbook, as Erik Coleman was able to recover the ball in stride and continue running despite oncoming players.
In the next set of 11 v 11 drills Jones busted one out for a good run right through the heart of the defense, Rhodes didnâ€™t touch him until he was 30+ yards past the line of scrimmage. Clemens seemed more relaxed today and showed much better touch on the ball. There was a noticeable improvement on the accuracy of his throws as the balls were hitting the receivers square in the hands. Chad ran the offense well, going 4 for 4 on one drive, including what would have been a long run by Leon on an inside hand off. They were throwing many throwback screens to the running backs, and also have called many trick plays for Cotchery in the past few days. Today they did 2 reverses using Cotchery, and in the past few days they have done end-arounds and WR option passes with him as well. In perhaps more noteworthy news, Pete Kendall played the entire practice with the 1st string offensive line. Defensively Vilma was playing on the 2nd string next to Harris, along with Thomas and Coleman. On a pass from Clemens , Drew Coleman made a nice play on the ball and tipped it into the waiting hands of Rashad Washington who returned it for a TD. When Brad Smith was in, he looked more comfortable and threw much better passes than during previous sessions. The highlight of the drive was a 20 yard sideline route to Stuckey who kept both feet in bounds while maintaining the ball, Stuckey and Smith connected 3 times on that drive, and it seemed as if Smith was looking for him when he was out there. On one play he hit Stuckey on the crossing route and he beat the cornerback around the corner and ran for 40 yards.
In the O-line v D-line rush drills, there were some interesting notes. Firstly Pouha was strong on 2 separate occasions, one of the times, he would have pushed Kendall straight back into the quarterback. The best player of that drill was Michael Haynes, a player that had gone unnoticed throughout training camp for me, as he blew by three different o-liners from both the left and right side, with 2 power moves and an inside swim move. D-rob was moving quick as well as he made a nice spin move on Mangold.
In the next 11 v 11 they started it off with Pennington out wide and Smith under center, but he just handed off to Jones, although the move had confused the defense. On one very nice touch pass Clemens hit Alvin Banks coming out of the backfield for a touchdown. The play went for about 25 yards where Clemens lead him nicely, and Banks kept his feet inbounds; very nice touch on the pass to get it over the cornersâ€™ head, yet keep it short enough to keep the receiver in bounds.
In the 2 minute drill Chad seemed very sharp making 5 straight completions to start the drive. 2 each to Coles and Cotchery and a dump off to Jones. However the drive stalled at the 9 yard line with 4 straight incompletions, 2 on plays where the receiver fell down. Tui, who received less reps than Smith today, came in and show arm strength, but couldnâ€™t hit the receiver. On one play he led Stuckey just a few feet too far on a 50 yard bomb. He also had a delay of game penalty on 4th down. While on the 2nd team, Harris was making the calls, similar to what Vilma does for the 1st team. Clemens looked sharp to start the drive hitting Stuckey on a curl route on 4th down to move the chains. He threw an interception later in the drive when the receiver fell down.
Practice ended with autographs being signed by Kimo, D-Rob, Bryan Thomas, Anthony Clement, Eric Hicks, and a few others.
Clemens looked much more relaxed and had a better practice today, as his balls were tighter and more accurate. He has to get away from the tendency to look for the underneath route.
Cotchery had a good day, making a good catches on the sidelines. Him and Pennington had some nice chemistry today.
Stuckey in my opinion will make the team, and will get playing time. Granted, he is running against slower and worse cornerbacks with the 2nd and 3rd string, but he is blowing by these guys and running really good routes.
Kendall playing with the first squad all day today was a bit of a surprise. I donâ€™t know if this is the making for a permanent change, or if Mangini is just switching it up.
Nugent showed improved strength on his kicks today. Iâ€™m impressed with his camp so far.
I had the first Jesse Pellot-Rosa sighting today, as he was riding the bike on the far side of the field during the early part of practice.
Iâ€™ll be going to the afternoon practice as well, and will post a report sometime around 8:30-9 PM.