There were a number of players absent from the afternoon session on the first day of two-a-day practices. Trindon Holliday, Josh Downs, and Tahj Jones were all missing again from this morning. Additionally, Stevan Ridley, Richard Dugas, Tyler Edwards, Ciron Black, Charles Alexander, and Chase Clement were all missing this afternoon. Cordian Hagans and Chancey Aghayere continued to practice in green jerseys.
The quarterbacks went through practice today taking two and sometimes three reps in a row before rotating. Overall this was the best the group has looked thus far while I’ve observed them. They worked with the receivers once again on timing routes, and all of them did a much better job of getting rid of the ball before the receiver broke and putting it where it needed to be. Russell Shepard also worked out at receiver on a hand full of plays and looked very smooth running routes.
The receivers also had a strong day of practice, drawing much praise from wide receivers coach D.J. McCarthy for running their routes with precision. Brandon LaFell and Terrance Toliver continue to be the first two receivers going through drills, with RJ Jackson usually going third. After that Chris Mitchell, Jhyryn Taylor, Chris Tolliver, Reuben Randle, and the walkons all just seemed to line up in random order.
Running backs coach Larry Porter continued to work with the running backs on keeping their head up and looking down field as they went through their footwork drills. After that they worked on a pass protection drill where two guys holding pads would line up about 5 yards in front of the running back, one to the left and one to the right. The running back had to sprint to the first defender and get his arms extended and locked while knocking him off balance, then sprint back to the starting spot, then sprint to the next defender and do the same thing. Towards the end of practice the running backs went up against the linebackers again, which we’ll get to in a second.
Defensive line coach Brick Haley had the ends and tackles split us again this afternoon as both groups worked on getting off the ball at the snap. Rahim Alem lined up at right end with Lavar Edwards, Michael Brockers, and Sam Montgomery behind him. Pep Levingston was on the left side with Chancey Aghayere behind him.
The tackles lined up one on one against each other, and the one playing defense had to drive the other backwards off the line. The pairs rotated with each other, but both Bennie Logan and Chris Davenport were drawing lots of praise from coach Joe Robinson.
Defensive backs coach Ron Cooper split the defensive backs into safeties and corners again. For a while both groups split off into pairs and just worked on reading the receivers feet and hips during man coverage. The corners continued to do drills similar to this for the rest of practice. Patrick Peterson was paired with Jai Eugene, Chris Hawkins with Morris Claiborne, and Ryan St. Julien with walkon Daniel Graff.
The safeties eventually started working on different ball skills drills. The pairs would line up in a line with one behind the other and run forward towards Cooper. The first guy in line held his hands up to catch the ball as Cooper threw it, then ducked out of the way at the last second. The second guy had to adjust to the ball quickly and catch it after only seeing it for a split second. Then the next time through the first guy would tip the ball up in the air after Cooper threw it, and the second would have to adjust and catch it.
The linebackers spent most of practice working on their block shedding drill where they had to avoid two blockers lunging at their feet and then wrap up the ball carrier. Towards the end of the final period they met up with the running backs again for more one on ones, except this time the cones were wider and the running backs had to run towards the sideline first before turning up field.
On the first rep Keiland Williams gave Kelvin Sheppard a stutter step as he was approaching the sideline like he was going to stop and spin back inside, but instead kept going outside to try and get the corner. It very nearly worked as Sheppard just got enough of Williams to knock him out of bounds. Richard Murphy tried something similar against Jacob Cutrera, but Cutrera forced him out with ease. Next up was Drayton Calhoun, and he set Harry Coleman up perfectly for a spin move back to the inside. Coleman was able to recover quickly enough to get a hand on Calhoun, but Calhoun was able to power through him and break free. On the final rep, Michael Ford turned straight up field when he reached the side and ran straight into Kevin Minter. The two were at a virtual stalemate when the coaches blew the whistle to end the rep.
The offensive line and tight ends worked in the back corner for much of the four periods we were allowed in so we didn’t get to see too much. However, offensive line coach Greg Studrawa could be heard giving plenty of encouragement as he worked with his second unit that continued to be Chris Faulk and Greg Shaw at tackles, T-Bob Hebert and Patrick Lonergan at center, and Thomas Parsons and Will Blackwell also got work at guard. Alex Hurst worked at tackle as well when Shaw went with the first unit that remained the same minus Black.
We’ll have some video up in a bit and we’ll also be back out there on Thursday morning as the team practices only once before going twice on Friday leading up to Saturday’s scrimmage.