August 13th was the second time that I visited the Rutgers practice in the last three days. Each time I walk away feeling that this team is much improved from the 2001 version.
I attended practice with one of my former teammates Eric Deering. This marked the first practice that he attended since last summer. He also walked away impressed with the improvement and the physical development of the players.
But, what were we impressed with?
WRs - From the freshmen to the seniors, this position has talent. During practice Aaron Martin made some very impressive catches. One catch, he accelerated to catch up with a ball that seemed over thrown, where he laid out, caught the ball with his hands, and cradled it to his body before hitting the ground. On another play, during one-on-ones, he burned a CB with a beautiful out and up move before accelerating to the ball.
Martin is not alone. Chris Baker is emerging as a "player". He caught most everything that was thrown to him and showed some good moves in the process. On successive plays in the one-on-one drill, Baker burned a CB on an outcut pattern and a slant. On both plays, he made some good moves to beat the defender.
Josh Hobbs is also having a good camp. He had a few good catches, where he had to adjust to the ball and made a good run after the catch.
Jerry Andre and Shawn Tucker also have shown their ability to catch the ball. This is only a few of the guys who caught my eye. The group is still missing Sean Carty and Tres Moses, who are out with injuries.
RBs - Clarence Pittman seems to still have a sore hamstring but he was able to practice and impress me with his vision, quickness, and speed.
Marcus Jones had a good run, where he split the defense.
OL - Marty Pyczmuca looks to anchor the line. He should create some running room for Pittman and Jones up the middle and provide Cubit some time to throw the ball.
McManis and Duffy are really making some good strides at the guard positions. The two 300lbers have been doing well in the one-on-one pass protection drills.
LBs - During the 7-on-7 passing drills, Brian Hohmann caught a tipped pass and ran it back. The LB corp seems solid with Brackett, Hohmann, and Bender.
DL - Raheem Orr is looking very good. His pass rushing moves have really improved especially his ability to adjust to the set of the offensive linemen and setup a move. There was one play where he blew past and offensive lineman in the one-on-one drills and said, "this is too easy".
Luis Rivas continues to improve and make an impression.
The team will practice in full pads on the morning of August 14th. There is where we will see how much they have really improved.