Ohio State NFL Minicamp Recap

Former Ohio State football players hit NFL practice fields from coast to coast over the weekend. For some, the taste of professional football was the first, while veterans also got into the mix in attempts to strengthen holds on roster spots or impress new teams. BuckeyeSports.com rounds up the action in this report.

Newbies Look To Impress

In all, 13 Buckeye rookies took part in camps with 11 teams.

Kurt Coleman told the Philadelphia Inquirer that taking the field for his first NFL minicamps was "amazing and surreal" with the Philadelphia Eagles, while tight end Jake Ballard had a catch at New York Giants camp that caught the eye of a reporter from the Newark Star-Ledger, and the New York Daily News listed the tight end as one of the impressive players of the weekend.

Meanwhile, Austin Spitler got his first taste of football in the South Florida heat with the Miami Dolphins.

"It's going to take some adjusting," he told reporters at the camp. "I realized that day 1, but I asked Brian (Hartline) how long it took him and he said a couple of weeks."

Aside from the temperature gauge, Spitler's main worry has to do with the glut of linebackers on the roster, including two others drafted ahead of him in April.

"You treat it like you're a tryout guy - come in and do everything you can to make the team," he said. "They preach special teams all the time. That's really important."

His hope before the weekend was to learn as much as possible about the defense, and he came away feeling he had accomplished that goal.

"Coming from Ohio State, they prepare you pretty well, so anything they threw at us wasn't really like a surprise," Spitler said. "I had kind of been through it before. A lot of terminology is the same from college so it's a lot easier to adapt."

To view the full Spitler interview, click here.

The other Buckeyes working out this weekend were draftees Thaddeus Gibson and Doug Worthington with the Pittsburgh Steelers, free agent signees Lawrence Wilson (Chicago Bears), Jim Cordle (Giants), Anderson Russell (Washington Redskins), Rob Rose (Seattle Seahawks), Ray Small (Minnesota Vikings) and Aaron Pettrey (Carolina Panthers), while Todd Denlinger (Cincinnati Bengals) and Jon Thoma (Cleveland Browns) took part in tryouts.

Thoma's work earned him a headline in the Canton Repository about his attempts to impress the team enough that they will remember him should a need arise at punter at some point now or in the near future, while Small earned praise from the Minneapolis Star Tribune for making a nice adjustment to pull in a Ryan Perrilloux pass.

Unfortunately for Wilson, his ability to impress coaches such as former Ohio State assistant Lovie Smith was hindered by an apparent leg injury reported by Scout.com partner BearReport.com. Wilson was seen limping on Saturday and did not practice Sunday

Ups and Down for Veterans

Meanwhile, there was good news and bad from the various experienced Buckeyes working at NFL camps.

Chris "Beanie" Wells held a football camp for Phoenix-area members of the Boys and Girls Club, and he brought along fellow Cardinal and former Michigan defensive lineman Gabe Watson to help him.

Then Wells spent the weekend at the first Cardinals minicamp of the season, where he reportedly split carries with Tim Hightower. Scout.com partner AZRedReport.com looks for Wells to become the feature back as time goes on but expects Hightower to continue to get significant carries in an attempt to keep both healthy.

Even farther west, positive reports came from San Francisco on the progress of Ted Ginn Jr. and Alex Boone.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Ginn, who was acquired via trade before the draft, received praise from head coach Mike Singletary for his work at wide receiver.

"More and more every day, as you have coaches coming back, they are saying, 'This guy has a lot more to him than just a return guy. He's going to help our team as a receiver,' " Singletary said. "The more he gets acclimated, the better he gets at being a receiver, the less we are going to want him doing some of those (other) things. I think it's important to remember he is a receiver."

Meanwhile, the Santa Rose Press-Democrat expects Ginn and two other newcomers to help turnaround what was league's worst punt return unit last season and help a kickoff return squad that also was poor. How much Ginn does in returns could depend on how successful he is at earning playing time at receiver.

As for Boone, the Chronicle reports the offensive tackle has undergone a tremendous body transformation and the Sacramento Bee figures he will be "one of the more interesting guys to watch" this year.

On the down side, the weekend's news cycle ended on a down note when word came this week that the Indianapolis Colts had waived wide receiver Roy Hall.

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