Note: Shea Dixon observed things on the offensive side and Jeremy Kenny focused on the defense today.
Brett Helms was missing today but Ciron Black was back on the practice fields on the offensive side of the ball. On the defensive side, Charles Alexander, Jacob Cutrera, Ace Foyil, and Stefoin Francois were all missing from today’s practice. Darry Beckwith returned to practice in full pads and a green non-contact jersey and Chancey Aghayere was also in a green non-contact jersey. Kirston Pittman was there as well and took part in all of the drills we saw without any limitations.
At quarterback, Jarrett Lee was moving around well and if you didn’t know about the ankle injury then you wouldn’t be able to tell anything was wrong. He was wearing a small brace, but showed little bother with the injury. His plants were firm and I never saw any body language that would indicate he was in any sort of pain.
As for performance, Lee once again outshined his counterparts. Coach Mac and coach Crowton had the quarterbacks work with the receivers for a good amount of the time we were there, and Lee looked on point.
When working the short yardage game, running five to ten yard patterns, Lee looked as good as he has thus far. Andrew Hatch, who we still presume will get the start against Appalachian State, was a bit slow to get started. His passes get to the receivers, but the motions and timing always seems a bit off.
I think to truly gauge Hatch’s ability to run an offense, we will need to see him in a game day atmosphere. As the “game manager” he is touted to be, it seems his true colors would shine much more clearly in a game than on a practice field, where he is often overshadowed in mechanics and arm strength by Lee and Jordan Jefferson.
The wide receivers worked on running deep routes for a bit, then switched gears into the short yardage game. Coach Mac had them running ten yard comebacks, where he had them focus on catching the ball and making the turn to get up the field. The receivers looked a bit more steady with the ball in their hands, as to be expected by the second week of camp.
Demetrius Byrd was dressed out, but did not participate in the drills, instead watching from the sidelines. He was not taped up, so I don’t think we are looking at any sort of injury situation.
When running post routes, Lee was putting a lot of balls right on the money, not forcing the receiver out of bounds, but instead giving him the opportunity to catch the ball and get up field to make a play. Once again, Ricky Dixon caught my eye by making some nice grabs along the sidelines, showing off both the hands and footwork. Not sure what role coach Crowton will use Dixon for in the coming season, but his progress is quite evident.
The running backs worked with coach Porter on blocking drills for a good bit, focusing mainly with the fullbacks moving into motion and getting through the hole and blocking that first linebacker. Quinn Johnson ran as the primary fullback, followed by Charles Scott and Tyler Edwards. Scott, back at the fullback slot again, looks the part. His frame allows him to make a good block, and his speed could create some mismatches come game time when he lines up at fullback and runs into the flats for the pass.
The backfield met up with the quarterbacks towards the end, working on running routes when put out as a wide receiver in motion. Nothing too crazy, and everyone had their sticky glue on today, not dropping many balls. It can also be noted that Stevan Ridley worked with the running backs while we there and not the fullbacks.
Coach Studrawa had the offensive line working on their releases, getting off the line and pushing the defender down the field. Ciron Black was back in pads and running today, while Helms remained absent once again.
The first team line from left to right was Black, Herman Johnson, Ryan Miller, Lyle Hitt, and Joe Barksdale. The second unit was the same as yesterday except for Ernest McCoy moving back to his tackle spot.
The defensive line began the morning working on getting off the line at the snap and reacting to the movement of the ball instead of the quarterbacks’ cadence.
The first team line from left to right was Tyson Jackson, Ricky Jean Francois, Marlon Favorite, and Kirston Pittman. The second line was Tremaine Johnson, Al Woods, Pep Levingston, and Rahim Alem. The third line was Sidell Corley, Drake Nevis, Jonathan Nixon, and Chancey Aghayere. Lavar Edwards, Kentravis Aubrey, Cordian Hagans, and Chase Clement made up the fourth line. After the first or second rep Jackson sat out the rest, so Johnson, Corley, and Edwards all moved up one group.
Later on in the practice the line worked on pass rushing moves while weaving through blocking dummies. Most of the linemen just used a club move to get past the dummies, but Marlon Favorite incorporated a spin move in towards the end of his rep that drew a reaction from his teammates.
The linebackers spent the majority of practice working on taking on blocks and then shedding them to get in position for a tackle. They started off first by hitting the blocking sled. Then one of the trainers would approach them with a pad as if he were a blocker, and they’d have to take him on, shed him, then fill the hole as one of the coaches was coming through.
It was certainly a good thing to see Darry Beckwith back on the practice fields today. He was wearing some type of brace on his right shoulder that appeared to be similar to the one Curtis Taylor wears. Beckwith didn’t participate in any of the contact drills today, but he watched each guy’s rep and then gave each of them a few pointers afterwards. You often hear about players being described as “coaches on the field” and that description certainly seems to apply to Beckwith.
The defensive backs began the morning working on tackling form again with more thud tackling.
After that Coach Mallory had them all line up in a single file line to work on their back pedal and breaking on the ball. The player would begin his back pedal, then shift to whatever side Coach Mallory pointed the ball, then plant his foot and drive forward as soon as Coach Mallory cocked back to throw the ball. I thought all of the defensive backs looked pretty good during this drill, especially in terms of changing direction quickly and breaking on the ball. Coach Mallory and Coach Raymond seemed to agree as neither of them ever really had to correct any of the players after their reps.
There were scouts from the Lions, Saints, and Raiders at this morning’s practice and the Lions scout spent just about the entire time watching the defensive backs work.
That’s all for this morning’s practice but check back later for some video and photos from the morning session. The team has the afternoon off before their final two-a-day of fall camp tomorrow and TSD.com will be at both to bring you all the latest.
Note: Les Miles will not be meeting the media today as there has been a change in schedule.