The always entertaining one-on-ones lived up to their reputation. Antonio Cromartie carried over his momentum from Thursday's practice, keeping rookie Legedu Naanee at bay. Cromartie's presence caused Naanee to drop the first pass that came his way. Later, Cromartie was there lay the wood on the fifth-round draft pick following a throw from Charlie Whitehurst.
Mark Simmons must have been a blur to Gabe Franklin, beating him badly downfield. If Franklin can cut down on those lapses in coverage he has a real shot to make the team, as he has great ability and excels on special teams.
Secondary coach Bill Bradley spent extra time working with Bhawoh Jue, Clinton Hart, and Eric Weddle - the three top candidates for the vacant strong safety position. Bradley caused the trio to be late to one of the drills as he worked feverishly to get his points across.
Darren Sproles was in peak form as he started off practice with kickoff returns. The first kickoff was caught by the compact back, who took the return straight up the middle with lightning speed. Cromartie eventually caught Sproles from behind, proving that No. 31 is really the fastest player on the team.
Rookie Quinton Jones also got a chance to show off his return skills, and looked decisive and determined in doing so.
First-time starters Matt Wilhelm and Stephen Cooper continue to make the most of Ron Rivera's expertise. As the former defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears, Rivera is overqualified for his role as inside linebackers coach. However, Rivera is always available and eager to help Wilhelm and Cooper transition to first string. The two fifth-year players are consistently asking Rivera questions during every practice. Cooper even took a knee by Rivera during defensive drills.
Along with getting the new starters in line, Rivera is charged with getting his young reserves up to speed. To balance his attention, he kept rookies Anthony Waters, Brandon Siler, Nick Roach and Zach Latimer after practice to run through blocking drills. Tim Dobbins chose to stay late for some extra reps as well.
The defense dominated during seven-on-sevens, punishing Greg Camarillo on his first day with the first string. Carlos Polk crushed Camarillo following a short completion. The defense disrupted Camarillo again when Drayton Florence nearly intercepted a pass meant for the second-year man out of Stanford. Later, Camarillo dropped a pass from Rivers after getting bumped downfield by Cromartie.
McKnight led Notre Dame last season with 67 receptions for 907 yards and 15 touchdowns. The Chargers were interested in McKnight prior to the draft but were disappointed by his performance at the Senior Bowl.
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