Tuesday's Shrine Practice: East

The second day of practices in San Antonio saw a clearer drier sky that was had sustained winds throughout the day. With a better familiarity of the system and better conditions on the playing field the East teams morning practice was considerably more physical then the previous days. Several players made the most of the opportunity and forced scouts to pay more attention to them for the rest of the week.

Quarterbacks definitely had the hardest time producing in today's conditions. Bruce Gradkowski's arm strength was severely tested as he was consistently short and behind on his throws throughout the day. On a more positive note Gradkowski did display a knack for making throws on the run and finding his check down receivers when pressured. Tarvaris Jackson had another difficult day struggling with both arm strength and accuracy through out the day. Jackson did appear to adjust to the windy conditions as practice wore on in terms of his velocity but his accuracy remains a question mark. Brett Basanez had the best day of the East quarterbacks. Basanez put nice touch on his deep balls and was able to consistently throw accurate passes throughout the practice.

FSU running back Leon Washington had one of the better days on both teams. Washington hits his hole at full speed displaying great shiftiness and balance while running. He also looked natural in the passing game. His small stature may concern some scouts, as he is not a physical player and put the ball on the ground after some of the days "hardest" contact. Virginia running back Wali Lundy also looked impressive hitting the holes well and running with good balance. Lundy appeared to be the most comfortable of the running backs at catching the ball out of the backfield. Arkansas running back De'Arrius Howard did not stand out except for his upright running style. Nick Hartigan showed good technique as both a blocker and a receiver. The fullback from Brown also showed an impressive motor throughout the practice.

Wisconsin receiver Brandon appears to be the best athlete on the East team. The only thing Williams has not excelled at is throwing the ball downfield, a play that the East team worked through several times. Marques Colston used his size advantage over the defensive backs to make plays throughout the day. The large receiver from Hofstra runs precise routes and extends his hands when making the catch. Fearless over the middle Colston may not have the speed to be a deep threat in the NFL. Auburn tight end Cooper Wallace is a willing blocker that also displays a knack at finding the seam in the defense and extending his hands to make the catch.

The offensive linemen rebounded from an unimpressive performance the day before. Ohio State guard Rob Sims is a physical blocker that locks onto his man and displays a nasty streak. Dominic Raiola again displayed the ability to get out side and to the second level though he was admonished by the coaches for not maintaining proper knee bend and for playing without leverage. Arkansas center Kyle Roper had a difficult time snapping the ball and blocking his man in one on one drills. Roper does show a great deal of heart and is surprisingly athletic. Miami tackle Rashad Butler is an athletic offensive linemen with the quickness to stay with anybody. He appears to be a little thin though and could use another twenty-five pounds of muscle as he gets overpowered. He also has a bad habit of bending at the waist instead of the knees. Isaac Sowells is another athletic tackle playing for the East team. The former Indiana Hoosier not only displayed excellent footwork, he was not beaten during drills, and he also displayed proper knee bend and balance while blocking. Cornell offensive guard Kevin Boothe has the physical attributes that scouts are looking for but remains very raw in his fundamentals. Florida offensive tackle Randy Hand had another difficult day on the outside. Louisville offensive guard was a dominating blocker during drills and used the scrimmage portion of practice to demonstrate his ability to get to the second level and blow defenders off the ball.

Defensively Tommy Jackson appears to not only be the defenses best player but also its e motional leader. Jackson was seen and heard cheering on his defensive teammates and jeering at his offensive teammates throughout the practice. Jackson is a quarter step quicker off the ball than any of the East interior offensive linemen. Kedric Golston gave the SEC two terrific defensive tackle performances today. The former Georgia standout bull rushed his way through all of the eastern offensive linemen throughout the day. Jason Hall bounced back from his thrashing at the hands of Andrew Whitworth the day before by beating Whitworth in their first face off during drills. The Tennessee product was able to get off of blocks all day long. James Wyche appears to be best suited to rushing the quarterback from the outside. Purdue defensive end Rob Nincovich had a superb day consistently getting pressure from the outside.

The linebackers also had a more noticeable day after flying under the radar for much of Mondays practice. Northwestern linebacker Tim McGarigle impressed coaches and scouts alike by displaying near perfect fundamentals throughout the positional drills. The outside linebacker continued to show good instincts throughout the day. Oliver Hoyte made his presence known during the teams scrimmage session. The NC State alum was explosive while playing downhill or from sideline to sideline. Rocky McIntosh looks like a work in progress as he has better athleticism than most of the other linebackers but appears to be a bit slow to react and he has trouble staying in control. The former Miami Hurricane gets good depth on his drops but has a difficult time changing directions. Virginia Tech linebacker James Anderson may be the most complete linebacker here. Anderson got good depth in pass coverage, displayed excellent speed to the sidelines, aggressively attacked the backfield, and showed solid reactions. While he may be the most physical of the East linebackers Anthony Schlegal appeared uncomfortable in pass coverage.

Charlie Peprah remains the best defensive back on the East squad. Peprah not only is impressing as a safety during scrimmage but he is getting beat less in man coverage drills than most of the cornerbacks in attendance. Dion Byrum showed good closing speed today and though he is susceptible to double moves he does have the speed to stay with the receiver down the field. Nate Salley, though physically impressive, is not using his size properly and does not make a play on the ball when it's in the air. Louisville defensive back Gerrick McPhearson is fundamentally sound and fast. McPhearson also does a nice job of getting his hands on the ball before the receiver can control it.


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