Spring practice for football began on Saturday, and GoBlueWolverine was in attendance. GBW NFL Analyst Josh Turel brings you his quick-hitter impressions of the first day. GBW will bring you a more detailed report shortly.
Chad Henne had a solid day; his throwing targets and ball placement were good. He had a few botched snaps but there were new players at center so there hasn't been time to gel yet. Matt Gutierrez got a decent amount of reps, and I was very pleased to see his throwing fundamentals are still intact. His injury is very similar to what Spencer Brinton suffered, which forced him to change his throwing mechanics and thus lose some of his game. With Gutierrez, it didn't seem that, throwing-wise, he's had to adjust much in his mechanics, which is a good sign. Although he lacked the velocity on the ball he once had, it should return in time once the injury fully heals.
All of the running backs had close to same number of carries. Jerome Jackson and Max Martin saw slightly more action. Kevin Grady looked like a natural and had a solid day in drills. Hard to gauge this position in light contact practices but in my opinion there should be a good rotation of backs. Obi Oluigbo and Roger Allison saw time at fullback. Brian Thompson was on crutches and had a large cast on his foot.
Jason Avant was catching everything thrown to him; overall he was very impressive. Steve Breaston looks to be at or near full health: he showed great explosion off his cuts, and his hands were great. Doug Dutch really impressed me, he ran crisp routes, was explosive and didn't drop passes. Carl Tabb had a slightly inconsistent day: made some hard catches but dropped some easy ones. Adrian Arrington was neither impressive or disappointing: he looks fully capable but missed some assignments.
Tyler Ecker was the best of the tight ends: he had an excellent day running routes and catching the football. Mike Massey also had a solid day: he ran sharp routes and didn't drop passes.
Rueben Riley was the most impressive lineman to me: he looked in better shape and received a lot of praise from the staff. Jeremy Cuilla took the most snaps at center: he had several botched snaps with Henne, but that should improve as they spend more time together. Mark Bihl took some snaps at center and worked at guard as well. Alex Mitchell was in slightly better shape and looked powerful; he worked at guard and tackle. Leo Henige participated in all drills. Brett Gallimore worked at tackle the majority of the time.
Marques Walton appeared thinner, and was quicker and more explosive. He was one of the better lineman in pass rushing drills. Pierre Woods worked out exclusively with defensive lineman and the majority of the fronts were four-man lines with Pat Massey at defensive tackle. Gabe Watson also looked good in drills. I think the lineman really fed off new defensive line coach Steve Stripling's intensity and the pass rushing drills were very up tempo. Will Johnson was in practice with a knee brace and participated in all drills. Tim Jamison worked out as well.
Shawn Crable added a good amount of bulk to his upper body and got in on a good amount of reps. Jacob Stewart looked much bigger, and saw reps at WILL linebacker. David Harris and John Thompson worked good during their reps at middle linebacker as well.
Grant Mason was the most impressive defensive back, breaking on passes and reading the plays well. Charles Stewart also looked good in run support angles and technique-wise. Leon Hall had an off and on day: he missed some assignments early but improved during the session. Morgan Trent showed the hips to play corner and held his own when matched up with Steve Breaston. Trent needs some technique work and polish on his role in the system but he showed the athletic ability to compete at the position. Safeties Ryan Mundy and Jamar Adams were solid in adjusting the coverage, and executed their assignments well. Brandent Englemon saw significant reps as well at strong safety.