One of the first drills the team goes through in practice is punt team and today was one of the longer sessions we've seen. It was also the most activity we've seen from Tom Malone in a long time during a practice and Tom looked fantastic. He hit multiple booming Malone-style punts and they came on a day when there were scouts from several NFL teams watching from the sidelines. Hopefully we won't have to punt too much on Saturday but, if we do, it looks as if Malone is ready to go.
Patrick Turner and Keith Rivers continued to sit out with hamstring injuries but we did see Frostee Rucker and Kaluka Maiava back in action for the defense.
Sedrick Ellis had a nice stop in a run drill and after practice he was seen talking with Sam Cunningham.
In the service team drills Mark Sanchez is giving the defense a good test with his strong arm and today Mark had a couple nice completions; one to John Zilka against coverage from Cary Harris and one zipped across the middle to Jim Abbott. Of course, the defense also had their share of plays, particularly on deep balls, as Darnell Bing had a pair of interceptions in the end zone and Scott Ware added two pass break-ups of his own on deep passes.
The first team offense had a lot of success throwing the ball against the service team defense as Matt Leinart was crisp and on target with a pair of touchdown passes to Steve Smith and one to William Buchanon. Matt also hit Dominique Byrd for a couple catches and Chris McFoy with a nice pass inside the five yard line. John David Booty had a deep completion to Dwayne Jarrett while Reggie Bush had a couple nice running plays. Ryan Ting had the best play for the defense with a nice pass break-up.
Travis Tofi blocked a 48 yard FG attempt from Troy Van Blarcom.
In the team drill to end the day, Josh Pinkard got things started with a pass break-up on the opening play. A few plays later Byrd made a terrific catch when he went up high to pull in a hard thrown ball from Leinart. A pitch attempt in the backfield went astray and the ball ended up in the hands of OL coach Pat Ruel who immediately headed right behind blocking from Leinart. Ruel eventually ran out of steam further down the sidelines but his form and style with the ball in his hands was textbook. Lawrence Jackson later tipped a pass at the line and John Walker came down with the ball for the interception. Cary Harris had one of the big hits of the day when he tackled Nick Vanderboom after a short gain.
When the team came together at the end of practice the defensive players broke into a round of "Fight On".