Pro Speak 8/8: Training Camps In Full Swing

With more than 60 Buckeyes battling for roster spots and playing time in the NFL, there is nowhere else on the Internet you will find more information on all of them than right here. In fact, there are too many former wearers of scarlet and gray to cover them all in one edition, so we'll start out with the guys making noise on the offensive side of the ball. Tomorrow we handle the defense.

The first Buckeyes to get some game action this year were running back Antonio Pittman and long snapper Kevin Houser of the New Orelans Saints (along with defensive end Will Smith, whom we will update tomorrow) and wide receiver Santonio Holmes of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Pittman made his first appearance in an NFL game nearby his hometown of Akron by rushing for 20 yards on seven carries.

For the other side in that contest, Holmes came off the bench to catch three passes for 48 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown from backup quarterback Brad St. Pierre.

Although Holmes is listed as a starter on the team depth chart, Cedrick Wilson started the game and caught four passes for 99 yards.

"Santonio missed a significant amount of time and Ced's been delivering for us," rookie Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin told reporters afterwards in reference to Holmes' missing the start of camp with an unspecified but non-football-related injury.

"There's plenty of time to let that sort itself out. We did play Ced in front of him tonight. We thought he was deserving of that given the time that was missed. But that's just the nature of football and injuries. Somebody else's misfortunes creates opportunities for others and he took advantage of it tonight. We'll put one foot in front of the other and see where we are next week."...


Holmes is just one of 10 former Ohio State receivers in NFL camps this August, and it is safe to say the position is producing the most news. Holmes and Drew Carter (with the Carolina Panthers) are younger players looking to move into their starting lineups this season, while Joey Galloway (Tampa Bay), Michael Jenkins (Atlanta) and Terry Glenn (Dallas) all look to continue their roles as front-liners.

While the Buccaneers periodically rest Galloway (as they did last year) to keep the 35-year-old fresh for his 13th NFL season, he gets a close-up view of David Boston's attempt to make the Buccs' roster.

Now listed at 6-2, 228, Boston's road back has been long (five games played combined in the past three years – none last season), but his chances of making the team look brighter after his name showed up as Galloway's backup in the depth chart for Tampa Bay's first preseason game.

He first tried to make the Bucc roster last year but was cut just before the start of the regular season.

A year later, he told the St. Petersburg Times he is in much better shape.

"Last year, I only practiced three or four times a week and I was trying to play the recovery game from practice to practice. I wasn't quite ready," Boston said. "This year, I'm able to recover from the morning practice to the afternoon practice and keep my explosiveness."

Others have noticed as well. Veteran cornerback Ronde Barber told The Times, "Last year, he didn't look like the David Boston that everybody remembers from his years at Ohio State and his first couple years in the league. He couldn't run. He wasn't explosive. But I noticed in the offseason that he was showing it again, and he's showing it now. Barring anything unforeseen, I can't imagine him not exploding back. Not playing in the league hurts you, but I think he's got enough talent to overcome that."

Improbable runs to roster spots are not solely Boston's domain, however. After the Patriots made several high-profile acquisitions at wide receiver (including All-Pro Randy Moss), it stood to reason Bam Childress' days in New England were numbered.

That may not be the case, however. With Moss, Donte' Stallworth, Troy Brown and Chad Jackson all missing time early with injuries, the mighty mite Childress has been turning heads with some big plays, and he might even be able to use some of those old skills from the defensive side of the ball (In high school, Childress was a star cornerback who earned Ohio Mr. Football honors at Bedford Chanel) to convince the Pats brass to keep him around.

"I think that Bam is one of our most versatile players. He's done a lot of things for us," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told reporters August 7, noting Childress has played every wide receiver spot along with seeing time in the backfield, on defense and special teams. "He's a guy that has a lot of multiple skills. He's a smart kid. He works hard and always in condition, good run after the catch, good with the ball in his hands, so he has a variety of skills, a lot of things that can be utilized in different ways and I'm sure we'll continue to do that with him. Definitely a strength of his is his versatility.

"He returns kicks and I'm sure that he'll be returning them during the preseason. He's also spent a little bit of time on the coverage team, but I think he's a little more of a returner than a coverage guy based on his overall size, but I'm sure he'll be asked to do that to at least give us depth in that area, too."

As for Glenn, he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery at the end of July and is expected to be out for at least another week...


A pair of newcomers are looking to join the ranks a few hours west of Columbus in Indianapolis.

Rookies Anthony Gonzales and Roy Hall have been getting outstanding reviews throughout the offseason.

Veteran Sports Illustrated writer Peter King noticed Gonzales on a recent trip to Colts camp in Terre Haute, Ind.

In his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback column on SI.com, King wrote August 6 that he noticed two things while watching practice.

"(Colts quarterback Peyton) Manning is throwing over and over again to rookie first-rounder Anthony Gonzalez out of the slot."

Informed of that later by King, Manning told the writer, "The reason is if I'm going to have confidence in Gonzalez during the season, and I plan to, I need to put him in every position he's going to be when it counts."

While Gonzales is expected to exploit defenders with his speed and route-running ability from the slot, Hall could present a problem for defenses from any number of spots according to our partners at the Colts' site on the Scout.com network.

"Hall could become one of the team's most versatile players," the site reported August 4.

"He's been working out of the wide receiver position as well as the slot. He's even seen some action as a tight end and H-back and he's showing that he can be a valuable special teams player as well."

Hall reportedly caught two long passes from former Wisconsin triggerman Jim Sorgi in a scrimmage that same day.

The duo of former Buckeyes has been impressive early enough that even competitors at their position have taken notice.

"Gonzalez is playing real well right now," Aaron Moorehead told the Terre Haute Tribune-Star August 6. "Him and Peyton [quarterback Manning] seem to have almost like an instant rapport … and that's great for the team. Because he's going to be the guy that's counted on through the whole season.

"[Roy Hall] is playing real well right now, but he's still learning the offense. It's tough to play when you're still learning the offense and he's done a great job. It's going to fun the rest of camp."...


In rounding out the skill players making early news, Troy Smith remains locked in a battle with former UCLA quarterback Drew Olson for the Baltimore Ravens' No. 3 spot.

After completing 2 of 4 passes for 22 yards during a scrimmage with Redskins August 4, Smith told reporters he is enjoying the chance to learn under starter Steve McNair, saying it had been "Great, great – it can only get better from this point on. You're getting in a situation where you're learning from a future Hall of Famer. It's a situation that gives me goose bumps every time I get a chance to listen to him. As much as I can, I learn from him."...


A steady stream of offensive linemen have made their way to the NFL lately as well, and although it seems unlikely any of the Buckeyes to graduate last season will make any impact this year, a couple of their former teammates may be in line to do so.

The Falcons drafted center Doug Datish in the fifth round of last April's draft but he will spend this season on the injured reserve after suffering injuries to a finger and wrist. His OSU mate on the 2006 All-Big Ten first team, guard T.J. Downing, also got bad news this week as he was officially released by the Arizona Cardinals after an unexplained absence kept him away from camp.

The news is better elsewhere, however.

In his second year in Seattle, guard Rob Sims is turning the heads of those covering the Seahaks.

Seattle Post Intelligencer beat writer Clare Farnsworth rated Sims' block downfield on a safety that sprung Shawn Alexander for a long touchdown run the play of the day in Seahawks camp Aug. 2, and a reporter for the Tacoma News Tribune also raved about Sims Monday.

"Sims' power, agility and foot speed are extraordinary," Dave Boling wrote in a blog on the paper's web site. "And after practice, on his own, he added some extra sprint work. Major, major, major stud who also happens to have a terrific attitude."

Boling went on to predict Sims is the most likely young Seahawk to make his first Pro Bowl this year...


Another contributor on the line for the Buckeyes' most recent national championship team also looks to be in line for playing time this season.

After coming over from Philadelphia in the offseason, Adrien Clarke could be called upon to replace veteran guard Pete Kendall in the New York Jets' lineup if Kendall continues his holdout or is released.

"Adrien has been getting reps for months now," Jets coach Eric Mangini told The New York Times. "Throughout the spring and during training camp, he's worked with both the first and second group. I've liked his progress. Being new to the system, that learning curve that takes place is big."

Clarke's addition would make the Jets' offensive line 40-percent Buckeye with Nick Mangold returning after a stellar rookie season in 2006.

"Nick has been great," Clarke told the paper. "All of them have. I don't know yet what I can add to my game or this team. I just do what I can."...


Of course, those youngsters can only hope to some day reach the status of Orlando Pace.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported he is in camp in excellent shape and showing no negative hangover from surgery to repair a torn left tricep.

In the third year of a seven-year, $52.9 million contract, the 32-year-old reported at the lowest weight - 321 pounds - of his NFL career.

"The older you get in this league, probably the lighter you have to play," Pace told the paper. "It's going to help me out with my knees and hopefully some of the muscle pulls."


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