The Jags were in shorts and shirts, and practiced during a portion of the session minus helmets at half speed. When the helmets went on, the level of intensity ramped up significantly.
All of the players that have been rehabbing injuries were held out of practice this morning. This was somewhat expected as they have been easing these players back into action to avoid having any setbacks. Marcus Stroud, Jeremy Mincey, Mike Walker, Greg Jones, George Wrighster, Reggie Hayward, Paul Spicer, and Bobby McCray all sat out the practice, working with the training staff.
Greg Jones did not appear to be having any issues, but they are being very cautious with his knee, letting him run sprints, then bagging his knee and getting ice on it to keep the swelling down.
Reggie Hayward spent the bulk of practice stretching out, or riding the bikes near the training shed. It did not appear that he was dealing with any significant problems on the day after a very active practice.
Now, let's get on to the drills for the day.
11×11 (no helmets)
Contact was obviously not allowed, but they were running through their routes at three quarter to full speed.
Byron Leftwich continued to look sharp from last nights practice, connecting right out of the gate with Dennis Northcutt on a deep out that went for more than twenty yards. They are quickly developing a rapport that is going to really help this offense in 2007. The slants and deep out patterns with Northcutt running out of the slot is becoming a staple of the offense.
Reggie Williams continued to look like a camp warrior, making a couple of long grabs in the middle of the field on deep slant patterns in traffic. He is doing a much better job of using his body to make plays. On one pass from Leftwich, he shielded the ball from Brian Williams. Brian Williams had Reggie covered like a blanket, but the receiver was able to get his body in front of coverage and muscled the ball into his arms.
Even Matt Jones looked good with some nice catches over the middle during this drill. Granted, this was a non-contact drill, so the fear of a bell ringing was probably not in the back of his mind, but he did sprint over the middle in traffic making a couple of nice plays in the process.
Garrard and Broussard connected on a nicely executed curl route. Broussard made a diving grab on the play, dragging both toes along the sideline before falling out of bounds. The ball was thrown to a point where the ball was either going to be incomplete or caught with double coverage on the sideline. Broussard did a good job of making sure it went for a completion, and Garrard did a decent job of placing the pass where he was the only guy that was going to catch the ball.
Scott Starks made a great defensive play batting away a Garrard pass intended for Dennis Northcutt. He managed to close the gap and get a hand on the ball to knock it away at the last second as Northcutt was preparing to haul it in.
Garrard and Greg Estandia connected on a deep cross in double-coverage. Estandia continues to show nice athletic ability, good hands, and a nose for finding the hole in the middle of the field.
Tim Couch participated in the drill, and seemed to struggle a little bit with the passes that require more velocity. He is not quite dialed in with his receivers yet. When a touch pass is called for, he does extremely well. The timing is not quite there for making the play when he needs to put some mustard behind the pass. In one particular instance, Jermaine Wiggins attempted to do a quick slant, managing to get himself open about ten yards down field. Couch got the ball there, but it was on the outside shoulder, and Wiggins could not make the adjustment to pull the pass in.
Couch did connect with D'Juan Woods on a crossing route. The ball was a little short, but the receiver was able to pull it in and get a nice gain on the play.
Ernest Wilford seems to be feeling the heat, and he is working hard at trying to keep his spot on the roster. On three plays during this drill, Wilford was showing some significant tenacity, going up after passes that were a little high and hauling them in. On one pass from Byron Leftwich, Wilford was corralled on the sideline in double-coverage, but the pass was put over the top of the coverage. Wilford was able to go up and snatch the ball away from coverage.
John Broussard also showed that he is not afraid to go up after a pass, going over the top on a deep slant to pull down a pass from Byron Leftwich.
Matt Jones showed some athleticism on a quick slant, wrestling a Leftwich pass away from Brian Williams who was in tight coverage and got a hand on the pass. Jones fought off the strip attempt and got a decent gain on the play.
Jimmy Farris continues to fight for a roster spot, making a diving grab on a deep out thrown by David Garrard, beating Rashod Moulton to the ball on the play. He is quietly making a strong case to get some consideration for a roster spot. Unfortunately, with the talent that he has to compete with, he still remains a long shot.
David Garrard launched a pass into the deep seam intended for D'Juan Woods. The ball fell significantly behind the receiver, short of its intended target.
Marcedes Lewis made a nice grab on a perfectly delivered pass from Garrard on a deep out in double coverage. Lewis showed good concentration as the coverage was tight, and he was up against the sideline. He pulled the ball in quickly and kept his feet in bounds to complete the pass.
11×11 (Part II):
Byron Leftwich connected with John Broussard on a rope delivered right over Mike Peterson in coverage. Broussard did a great job of adjusting to the ball and making the catch in stride.
Ernest Wilford made another one of his jumping grabs on a deep sideline pass in coverage. Wilford made a nice adjustment with the ball in the air to make the play.
Byron attempted to connect again with Broussard on a go route down the sideline. Brian Williams had perfect coverage on the play, and managed to get a hand on the ball tipping it away as Broussard was about to haul the pass in for a long completion.
David Garrard attempted to connect with Reggie Williams on a deep sideline route. Williams has shown surprising speed on the deep routes during camp. Unfortunately, the pass was thrown behind him, and fell incomplete.
While the level of intensity is clearly not the same as the practice on Monday night, it was still a sharp session with the players involved in position battles doing their level best to try to separate themselves from the rest of the pack, securing a position on the team in the fall.
The number of players that are sitting out practice due to injury (10) is certainly cause for concern, but at least with regard to the key players like Stroud, Hayward, and Jones, getting a session to rest after a practice like the one we saw on Monday night is expected. Tonight will be an interesting situation to monitor as the players take the field for a second time in their pads for contact drills.