"It was another hot, sticky one and the coaches had them out there basically every minute they were allowed. So the guys got a good practice in," one observer explained. With Friday marking the 12th consecutive day with at least one practice, the players are slated to get Saturday off to "rest up a bit."
So why the all-out approach? And is this approach different from past years?
"I'd say yes and no," one observer said. "The schedule isn't too different, but the players are really getting pushed. I think the coaches have have been looking to determine the two-deep and get it set a little earlier than years past. Part of that is that a lot of positions have been set, but also they want guys to emerge and see who wants it."
Here are some notes from observers on the scrimmage:
- One of the biggest plays was one that had the entire team "shaking their heads." The speedy Devon Smith took a swing route for a long touchdown. "He turned it on and blew the doors of," one observer said. As another explained, "He made a full-speed cut and blew by everyone."
- Two other rookies who stood out on a big play were Kevin Newsome and Justin Brown. "Brown made a great touchdown catch on a great fade from Newsome."
- The first team offensive line has seen little movement in personnel with the starting lineup as:
Observers indicate the comfort and communication of the line are progressing nicely. The interior group still has shown some blocking assignment issues, but "they seem to be coming together better."
- Johnny Troutman apparently is still running third team at guard.
- The secondary also saw a similar starting lineup from earlier practices:
"I think this is a solid group," an observer said. "Sukay seems to be settling in with the reads and assignments and Astorino has really been working with him on his overall game. Timmons has the abilities but needs to be aware of the guys around him. And D'Anton is progressing nicely. He's tentative at times, but has a good head on his shoulders."
- A.J. Wallace was still with the third team at corner for the bulk of his scrimmage reps.
- As an aside, the secondary did not spend much time on the nickel package.
- In terms of the younger defensive backs, observers are split who is the best. Some really like Derrick Thomas and others really like Stephon Morris. Both are "speedy in coverage" with Thomas said to have the edge in technique and Morris with aggression. "Morris takes some risks on routes, but both he and Thomas could really grow to be great in coverage."
- Tailback Evan Royster saw limited reps to allow for some younger backs to get extra work. But on the carries he had "he had some good runs with vision and balance." As another observer said, "Evan is sharp on his reads — he sees things no one else does — he's so fun to watch."
- Backup running back Brandon Beachum saw some added reps in Royster's place. The coaches have him working on his block reading and "overall patience. He's got good power but needs to wait a hair for lanes to emerge. Sometimes he tries to force himself in early."
- The wide receivers are seeing a "ton of combinations," with observers saying they are getting rotated to find different sets the coaches like. "[The coaches] seem to like Brett [Brackett] inside and [Derek] Moye split out, but they are trying a bunch of sets."
- Quarterback Daryll Clark he's been consistent and like Royster saw limited work to get the younger players, particularly Newsome, additional reps. Clark had a nice rushing score on play-action.
- "Kevin [Newsome] is relying on his arm more — the pass to Brown was beautiful, but he thinks about it. It needs to become just natural — he'll get there." The coaches are allowing Newsome to take more contact to "get him ready."