On the Line
Day 3 (Saturday): Double sessions returned in full force during a muggy and humid Berea day. The initial practice was in full pads but the tone was much slower than seen earlier in the week. The second practice was in shorts and shells with a few spirited sessions but relatively slow overall. Minor injuries have mounted among the team so changes have been made to the depth chart and some individuals are receiving more and more repetitions. Furthermore, head coach Romeo Crennel felt the need to rest some veteran plays making both sides of the line relatively thin for portions of the day.
Louis Leonard - Two different Louis Leonard's appeared through two separate sessions. In the former session, the nose tackle looked sluggish and slow off the line of scrimmage. Come the latter and he came off the line with some explosion and quickness. Inconsistency has plagued the young defensive lineman early in camp.
Chase Pittman -With Robaire Smith and Corey Williams on the sidelines for the second practice, Pittman was rewarded as he moved up to the first defensive unit alongside the two Shaun's. Still his game looked limited, playing high and giving up his chest to offensive linemen throughout the day.
Melila Purcell - The defensive end was totally invisible throughout the day. Watching two full practices and yet nothing of note comes to mind.
Shaun Rogers - After a dominant showing Friday, the larger than life Rogers kept up his superb play. It has to be noted how bull strong the nose tackle appears while watching his play. He has literally lifted first unit offensive lineman off the ground to plant them. One play in particular during the second session, Eric Steinbach was almost taken off his feet while Rogers merely had a single big paw on the lineman's chest . Two areas of slight concern through the day was the big defensive lineman's ability to consistently work up the field while being moved laterally, and at times getting entangled in blocks without successfully fighting off of them. Issues which are minute compared to his overall spectacular play of the last few days.
Ahtyba Rubin - Though certainly looking the part of a nose tackle, Rubin has not been much of a force at the point of attack. In particular he also struggled mightily when asked to move laterally surrendering cutback lanes for the running backs.
Brian Schaefering - Mysteriously absent in the morning practice, the hardnosed defensive end returned for the team's second session. In such short time, he did not make much of an impression but there might be a concern about his inability to get off blocks consistently.
Robaire Smith - After a nondescript morning session, the veteran was given the afternoon off from the team's second session.
Shaun Smith - It has been noted in earlier reports, Smith has not shown the best repatoire of moves but he has continued to play with leverage. Smith consistently got under his blocker's pads, gets extension, and reestablishes the line of scrimmage. Each practice to date has shown Smith's quickness, strength, and *vocal* leadership. Interestingly the defense Saturday showed a wrinkle with both Smith and Rogers angling on the nose taking advantage of their athleticism and quickness off the snap.
Corey Williams - During the initial session there was one play in particular with Williams‘ play which stuck out. One of the hardest blocks for an defensive lineman to work against is a down block by a tackle when the hat read of the guard is also a down block. Williams had trouble fighting off the block and needed to get lower to fight the pressure. As the practices have commenced to date, the free agent acquisition has had a little trouble on his reads even though the physical talent is readily apparent. Williams was one of the veterans given the rest of the day off.
Nate Bennett - Just a nasty blocker who loves to bury his opponents. In particular he drove Louis Leonard off the ball, knocking the nose tackle's helmet off in the process. The young undrafted rookie has yet to give up on block until the whistle blows. Through the two sessions Bennett was seen at both guard and right tackle.
Hank Fraley - Seeing different fronts on the day from the newly minted defensive line gave the offensive line some fits. It is surprising to see a few missed line calls by the veteran that allowed interior defensive linemen to come free to the quarterback. In dealing with the exceptional play of both Shaun Rogers and Shaun Smith, it has become obvious the veteran center is not the strongest at the point of attack and has trouble anchoring against the bigger opponents.
Lennie Friedman - Again the veteran spent his day at center and had a highlight reel block against Shaun Smith. The interior blocker was actually able to get under Smith's pads, drive him off, and into the ground.
Rex Hadnot - It was apparent during the day's practices, Hadnot was still hampered by a slight ankle injury suffered earlier. Moving in space was laborious for the guard but he was effective when asked to trap down the line of scrimmage.
James Lee - Overall technique on this day was lacking for the young man. The former Georgia transfer committed too early, turning his shoulders and giving up his post leg, which multiple defenders took advantage. Often the tackle was too willing to accept the blow instead of delivering one. Again showed good physical tools by coming off the ball with a quick first step.
Cliff Louis - Has found himself on the outside looking in as the team's third string tackle. The young offensive lineman spent plenty of extra time working on technique after practice.
Seth McKinney - Continued to receive repetitions at right guard along the second unit but left the initial practice early due to an ankle sprain.
Derrick Morse - Strong when delivering his initial blow, the Hurricane product displayed dead feet during the day. Early indications as an in-the-box blocker, Morse needs to pump the feet to drive opponents off the ball.
Marvin Philip - Was not present during team activities.
Kevin Shaffer - The physical right tackle continues to display a deficiency in his overall technique. An obvious lack of a solid punch was apparent. He often leads with his helmet. Generally kept his hands too wide. And the final result is not always getting proper extension.
Isaac Sowells - Being bounced back and forth, the young veteran was once again at left tackle on this day. A reoccurring theme has quickly become the tackle's inconsistency in his hand play. The lineman was over committing and leaning too far over his toes in anticipation of landing a solid punch. When the young man was able to land the elusive initial pop, he struggled reestablishing his hands on the defensive linemen.
Eric Steinbach - Generally regarded as one of the league's best guards, it is odd seeing Steinbach being scolded by his coach for technique issues. This was the case as offensive line coach Steve Marshall was not impressed with Steinbach's effort on keeping his hands inside on one particular occasion. As one of the lighter interior lineman around the NFL, Steinbach's ability to control a defender by getting under their pads is crucial.
Joe Thomas - One area of note the past two days has been the left tackle's hand play. While there still appeared to be an issue, he definitely showed a penchant for controlling defenders with his uncanny ability to reestablish his hands. His pass set could be used in instructional tapes with his athletic feet, perfect body lean, and ability to slide with defenders.