One of the biggest buzzes on the Senior Bowl's North team continued to impress on Wednesday.
Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji
has been one of the most talked-about and talked-to players at the Senior Bowl. For good reason. Raji has been bowling over offensive linemen and earning their respect.
Center Alex Mack
didn't hesitate when asked about the toughest defensive lineman to face on his team during practices, singling out Raji quickly.
And North team coach Marvin Lewis
also had praise for Raji, a media favorite.
"He's been an explosive player and he's been impressive, but again, this is two practice days," Lewis said Tuesday night. "We have the rest of the week and Saturday to go. And the man sitting beside him (Eric Wood
) will have something to say about that. "
During back-to-back plays at Wednesday morning's practice, Raji fought through a block and got so much penetration so quickly that he was able to foul up a handoff from Graham Harrell
to Cedric Peerman
. The ball ended up on the ground, a place that Raji usually isn't found unless he's making a tackle.
On the following play, he got deep penetration again and was a major part of a tackle-for-loss. His qualities are something every NFL coach desires – size with strength and speed.
"I think there's a premium on big guys that can stay on their feet – that's what clogs the middle – is guys that stay on their feet and draw the blocks," Lewis said. "It's not just big, it's athleticism, knee bend, pad level and so forth. I think that he has those attributes."
Other notes from the North's Wednesday morning practice:
The quarterbacking struggles continued for the North team. Early in practice, Central Arkansas QB Nathan Brown tried to get the defense to jump early with a hard count, changed his cadence and then fumbled the snap. He missed on the next center-QB exchange as well.
Several balls ended up on the ground in the first half of practice, whether it was aborted snaps or handoff problems.
Center Alex Mack was responsible for one of those when a snap to Graham Harrell, in the shotgun at the time, went well over the quarterback's head. Mack, however, is proving to be a very solid center in this week of practice.
Harrell has struggled with playing under center at times this week, something he said early in the week that he wanted to prove he could do.
Missouri defensive back William Moore was being instructed to keep his hands off the defenders during one-on-one drills.
Oregon safety Patrick Chung, showed solid skills locating the ball in the air over his shoulder.
Oklahoma linebacker/safety Nic Harris isn't the biggest defender, but he had an impressive bull rush on a running back during one-on-one drills.
Those working on returning kicks were Connecticut's Darius Butler, Penn State's Derrick Williams, Purdue's Kory Sheets and Chung.
Oklahoma's Juaquin Iglesias made a nice over-the-shoulder sideline catch from Harrell. The wide receiver also showed good route-running skills and comes back to meet the ball well.
Illinois offensive lineman Xavier Fulton struggled at times with various moves by the defensive linemen during one-on-one work.
Washington State receiver Brandon Gibson had his left wrapped with ice, indicating a potential hamstring injury that was keeping him out of action.