Senior Bowl: North Observations
Connecticut LB Trevardo Williams continued to sit out of the North practices because of an ankle injury. Also out for the North were LBs Arthur Brown (Kansas State) and John Simon (Ohio State), and WR Denard Robinson (Michigan) continues to be limited with an injured ulnar nerve. The North squad had better hope for calm conditions during Saturday's game if Tuesday's practice fielding punts was any indication. Markus Wheaton, Jordan Poyer and Jamar Taylor all dropped punts and Robison continued to struggle in that aspect by bobbling another one and misjudging others. Robinson continued to struggle as a receiver, too. He dropped several passes and simply didn't look confident yet as he tries to make the transition from college quarterback to NFL receiver. MOBILE, Ala. -- Kicker Quinn Sharp was exactly that – sharp. He was good from as far away as 42 yards out in the chillier morning practice. He missed his first kick but was perfect on his next six attempts. Punter Jeff Locke of UCLA has a big-time leg but is inconsistent. If the team with the better quarterbacks wins the game, the advantage has to go to the South. The North's Zac Dysert and Ryan Nassib both struggled with accuracy in the morning practice. The North also struggled with the center-quarterback exchange, and Nassib and running back Johnathan Franklin of UCLA botched an exchange for another turnover. North Carolina State quarterback Mike Glennon has a big-time arm. He wasn't perfect on his deep routes but he threw a beauty for a touchdown to Oregon State's Markus Wheaton between a pair of defenders. Miami (Ohio) quarterback Zac Dysert, on other hand, lacks an elite arm. He was too high on a couple of out-breaking routes, then threw a duck that was batted down by Oregon State corner Jordan Poyer. USC safety T.J. McDonald certainly showed he has the physical part of the game down. He let WR Markus Wheaton get behind him for a touchdown during seven-on-sevens, but he was impressive jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage and sealed the edge well on running plays. One cornerback to watch entering the Senior Bowl week was Utah State's Will Davis, who was projected as a Day 2 draft pick, but he hasn't had a very good first couple of practices. On Tuesday, he was burned badly on a double move for a touchdown. Kudos to the Oakland coaching staff for a smooth practice. Plays are run in rapid-fire fashion, allowing the players more opportunities to impress and giving the coaches more film to study. Harvard fullback Kyle Juszczyk said he didn't do much pass protection in college, and it showed at times during a one-on-one session. For his first rep, he leveled Rutgers Khaseem Greene. There were other plays, however, where Juszczyk's couldn't handle speed or sudden movements. Penn State defensive tackle Jordan Hill had some tough stretches. During a one-on-one drill, he was knocked to the ground by San Jose State lineman David Quessenberry on one play and jumped offside on the next. On another play in the drill, he again as put to the ground, this time by West Virginia's Joe Madsen. In team drills, Hill flushed the quarterback from the pocket. A major question entering the Senior Bowl was whether Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher could dominate against the big boys. He's answered that in overwhelming fashion with two excellent practices. On back-to-back plays in one-on-ones, he dominated the defender and ended the play with an extra shove just to make sure. Texas defensive end Alex Okafor did beat Fisher once during 11-on-11s. Syracuse's Justin Push is another lineman with left tackle skills. On back-to-back plays in one-on-ones, he easily handled Illinois defensive end Michael Buchanan. The North's linebackers have played better against the run than the pass, especially when matched up against tight ends. At 6-foot-1 and 228 pounds, Kansas State receiver Chris Harper is an inviting target. He doesn't have big-time speed but he knows how to get open and seems to have a huge catch radius. Three defensive backs, Florida International safety Johnathan Cyprien, Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant and UConn cornerback Dwayne Gratz, backed up strong Mondays with strong Tuesdays. Fresno State safety Phillip Thomas, who had eight interceptions as a senior, is smart and can cover plenty of ground.