A strong focus during the middle part of the practice was devoted to special teams. After a unit that last year was anything but "special", it appears Coach Osbourne has them headed in the right direction. Throughout the practice, he emphasized the idea of getting inside the gunners so as to avoid getting caught for a penalty, something that haunted the Ducks last year. The returners have looked more efficient so far this Spring as well as few balls have hit the turf. The punting game looks to have improved as well. All reports of Josh Syria's big leg appear to be accurate at this point.
During the short scrimmage session, the defense took to the forefront. The defense had quite a few interceptions and dropped a few others that were right in the defender's grasp. Jairus Byrd, Jameel Dowling, and Terrell Ward all had at least one pick on the day while even Nick Reed had one in his grasp, before he dropped it.
However, not to sell the quarterbacks completely short, as a group they made many tight throws. Throwing as many interceptions as they did today could be concerning though. Ra'Shon Harris looks to be at the top of his game after his injury last season kept him out. On one play, Harris emphatically batted down a Justin Roper toss that got the entire defense on the sideline pumped up. Patrick Chung taunted Remene Alston, "You got lucky Remene, cookie monster was looking for his cookies on that play!".
The hit of the day went hands down to Mark Lewis. Yes, Mark Lewis. After Dennis Dixon dumped off a short pass over the middle to Jeremiah Johnson, Lewis continued his block on the play and unfortunately, linebacker Erik Elshire got the worst of it. Lewis lowered his body into Elshire's chest and sent him sprawling in the air. Elshire got right up after the big crack and put his helmet back on and continued to pursue the play while Lewis was busy getting praise from all of his fellow offensive lineman.
The most impressive player on offense for the day was Ed Dickson who caught numerous difficult balls, diving on more than one occasion to haul in a pass.
Of the young players on defense, it is hard to find a player that looks more promising than Marvin Johnson. He has good size and bulk and seems to always be around the ball making plays. With another year or two under the tutiledge of Coach Neal and Coach Aliotti, the sky is the limit for Johnson. He has all the natural instincts that are a necessity for the safety position.
Practice continues tomorrow at 4:15.