The overall tone of the practice was very quick and aggressive. The team is no longer given the luxury of jogging or walking to their next drill, nor can they walk out of the huddle. On several occasions, Coach Nix made the offense re-huddle because either they didn't break the huddle correctly or they didn't run to their spot on the line. Coach Shannon was very animated as well, and was very involved in the practice.
Coaches Mean Business
This year, the coaches aren't taking any nonsense from players. During warm-ups, receiver Sam Shields and defensive end Steven Wesley were sent back to the locker room because their socks were an incorrect color. Coaches on both sides of the ball stressed hustling and high-energy effort throughout practice. On one play in particular, Lee Chambers took a handoff and after he was tagged, stopped running. Patrick Nix sprinted to Chambers and reminded him very loudly to keep running until he reaches the end zone.
Several players were held out of practice. Damien Berry participated lightly in practice but at one point went off to the side of the field to do individual drills. Berry is still recovering from the knee injury that sidelined him for much of his senior year of high school. Robert Marve and Jermaine McKenzie both attended practice, but had limited to no involvement. Marve stood by the sidelines with a play sheet in his hand and made an effort to learn what was going on. Romeo Davis and Anthony Reddick both dressed, interestingly enough, but did not play in 7 on 7's.
Returner Duty Competition is Wide Open
Some of the skill players went off to catch punts both at the beginning and end of practice: Richard Gordon (yes you read that right), DeMarcus Van Dyke, Jojo Nicholas, Bruce Johnson, Graig Cooper, Kayne Farquharson, Chavez Grant, Doug Wiggins, Damien Berry, Ryan Hill, Darnell Jenkins, and Sam Shields all took practice catching punts.
On both offense and defense, it was very difficult to determine who was on the first team because the coaches constantly rotated players at every position. Most of the first team duties on the offensive line went to (from left tackle to right tackle): Fox, Bain, Trump, Morse, and Youngblood. Dajleon Farr took first team reps at tight-end.
During 7 on 7's and skeletons, the defense opened up in a Nickel package with Campbell, McCray, Holmes, and Moncur on the line. Colin McCarthy and Glenn Cook were the linebackers and Lavon Ponder and Kenny Phillips were the safeties. When a third linebacker was needed, Sharpton came in and Cook moved to the outside.
Quarterbacks Limit Mistakes
Because it was the first practice, neither quarterback did anything to pull away in the competition. Additionally, because there was no real pass rush, it is difficult to measure their effectiveness. However, both limited their mistakes when throwing the football and generally made good decisions. Kyle Wright got lucky on one play when he threw into double coverage and Glenn Sharpe had an interception bounce off his hands, but otherwise, he had a good practice. Kirby also had a good practice and did not make any blatant mistakes.
Both quarterbacks spread the football around. Kirby tested the defense deep a few more times than Kyle, but they both had a very similar practice. Both made excellent throws at times. Each of them came out with different combinations of receivers and linemen protecting them. You can really tell that Coach Shannon was serious about competition.
One of the walk-on quarterbacks did botch a center snap exchange, and Kenny Phillips took the fumble and ran it back for a touchdown.
Running backs Catching More Passes
The offense seemed to focus a good chunk of today's practice to running screen and swing passes, both during individual drills and the non-contact scrimmages. Graig Cooper was very exciting to watch, and he displayed excellent hands. It's easy to see why coaches are thinking about moving him around to get him on the field.
- In an effort to limit turnovers during the season, the entire team participates in a "turnover drill," where a defensive player jogs behind an offensive player and continually attempts to rip the ball from his hands.
- Allen Bailey is a very large man, and had some trouble during 1 on 1 coverage drills. He was beaten twice, once by Richard Gordon and once by Charlie Jones. Before everyone starts calling for a move to defensive end; however, it should be noted that it's his first practice and a lot was put on his plate. After the drills, Coach Barrow took him aside and offered him some words of encouragement.
- The wide receivers had an early case of the dropsies, but as practice wore on, their ability to catch the football improved. Chalk that one up to summer rust.
-Second team defense during drills included: Willie Cooper, Jojo Nicholas, Spencer Adkins, Eric Houston, Tavares Gooden, Courtney Harris, Dwayne Hendricks, and Vegas Franklin. Again though, they only started out that way and this does not necessarily reflect how the depth chart is going to look.