Summing up a week's worth of info off the top of a very flat head:
Defense is ahead of the offense, as it normally is at this time of the year. The goal-line stuff is an example of the difference in intensity and tempo from a regular practice pace. It's a "live go" situation. What amazes me is that these guys, even the backs carrying the ball, wear little in the way of thigh and knee pads. Hip pads? Forget that in this slim down age. Chuck would have had a stroke if Franco showed up to practice with so little lower body protection.
James Harrison stood out all week. Intercepting a pass, catching a td pass, lead iso block on a goal-line run that buzzed somebody's noggin, this cat can do it all. One-on-one pass rushing with the big boys he's got a "dip'n rip" uppercut technique to catch the corner that lacks the dip part; one of the joys of only standing six feet tall. He went on to make a speed bump out of Willie Parker in backs-on-backers. The only thing that stopped him all week was a squat monster by the name of Dan Kreider in the finale of that drill.
Willie Colon vs. Clark Haggans in the one-on-one pass rush has become a sideshow all to itself. Clark kept the pedal to the metal for the corner all week and then decided to change tactics when the 315 pounds of educated big nasty showed he's got the feet to match him on the set. Nice set-up for the helicopter. The spin move left Willie swatting air and Clark with his first decisive win over Colon all week.
Bryant McFadden will be this year's Ike Taylor. He's the best jamming corner out on the field. When he locks out on the receivers at the line of scrimmage, some of the young guys look like they're running in place. He's intense, and when you get a peek into those eyes, it's all predator. One could easily imagine this is what a field mouse sees last of all just as a Falcon on the hunt drops in for some lunch.
Andre Frazier spent the off-season well. The added weight and strength has given Frazier the ability to stuff Chris Kemoeatu on a trap and get the ball-carrier and follow that up with the agility to pull off his own helicopter move successfully on a pass rush. Not to mention no one is gonna go Charles Atlas and kick sand in this dude's face. He's already scrapped a couple of times this past week. He did his dad proud in those duke-outs too, as I recall. Remember Andre, pull the face-mask, uppercut and circle.
Lee Vickers is a very intriguing guy. He looked like another candidate for the proven formula of drafting an undersized DE and turning him over to Chet Fuhrman for bulking. Aaron Smith, Brett Keisel and Shaun Nua have all been packaged that way. The move to linebacker so early surprised me.
If anybody battles harder day in and day out than back-up NT Chris Hoke, I'll shine his shoes. This guy plays as if he's the proverbial "bubble boy," which he was early in his career. He still has that mentality, and it keeps him frosty and on the edge. When you hear the coaches yelling "stay on your feet," during the internal running part of practice, you know Hoke-y's in the middle of the pile stacking bodies. Old school all the way.
Has anybody heard from Rian Wallace lately? Only getting noticed at bed-check is not a good thing.
Max Starks looks like he's moving on up in the tackle class. He's using those long arms of the law to render justice on the corner, and give a long route for the pass rushers on their way to QB nirvana. Just like in the Texas two-step, don't crossover Max. That's really the only point in his kick-step where he can get beat if he's punching and angling his body right. I have to admit I'm jealous…to think of the damage I could have done with that body …
Shaun Nua took some Sasquatch-like steps this week. His head-butt two-gap game has got to improve, and will when he learns to lock-out better with those long arms. When he gets the lock-out, sometimes his head drops. Sometimes he doesn't get the lock-out and he starts peeking over the top. That's when he goes for a ride. He'll find the in-between ground with reps.
Over all, that was a good week to be prowling the sidelines watching the Pittsburgh Steelers at St. Vincent College. There's a whole lot of work for the boys to do before the trip to the Phoenix Biosphere stadium, and I for one am having a blast watching it.