by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor TRJoe
Here are some quick hits from last night’s practice,
We got there about 35-40 minutes early, with a pretty good crowd already there watching Lawrence Tynes kicking field goals. Zak DeOssie long snapping, Sage Rosenfels holding, and Tynes hit about 5 or 6 straight from what looked like pretty good distance. Steve Weatherford then stepped in to take snaps from DeOssie, with Dodge looking on.
After the specialists went back inside, there was about a 20 minute wait until the team emerges from the Timex Center. The first group of players, led by Eli, come out to a nice ovation from the crowd in the bleachers in front of the main practice field.
Kick return drills are up on the main practice field, with Jerrel Jernigan, D.J. Ware, Devin Thomas and Darius Reynaud getting reps bringing kicks back. Domenik Hixon is grouped with the returners, but I do not think he actually fielded one. Jernigan looked very fluid, as did Reynaud. Ware dropped one during his reps.
The rest of the team emerges from the Timex Center and the full team then goes through their calisthenics before breaking up into individual positional drills.
We were in the bleachers on the far field, so we were limited to which drills we saw, which were mostly defensive back drills.
The first group in front of us were the safeties. Their first drill was to read the ball with a coach moving it from side to side, then to go and grab the INT once Safeties Coach David Merritt lofted the ball into the air. Antrel Rolle went first, Kenny Phillips second, then the rest of the safeties. They did this a few more times but from a different hash mark. Provided they stay healthy, I think we can expect big things this year from Phillips and Rolle.
The next group up in front of us were the CBs, who essentially did the same drill, but they were paired up (Corey Webster/Terrell Thomas, Aaron Ross with another CB, etc), with Cornersbacks Coach Peter Giunta and Lawrence Tynes tossing them the passes. Webster and Thomas caught everything thrown their way, as did Ross. Prince Amukamara was in one of the lower groups and dropped his first pass. Maybe he was nervous for his first practice, but then he rebounded and caught the rest. Recently signed Darnell Burks, wearing #41 (bringing back unpleasant Dave Thomas memories) was the odd man out and had to do the drill by himself. What I noticed the most here was that Corey Webster is a real leader, especially among the CBs, encouraging and talking up all of his position-mates, even Burks.
The next drill was the full back seven jogging thru different coverage schemes. It looked like it was focused on the nickel D as Thomas was playing the Deon Grant role from last season, and Ross was playing as the 3rd CB. Other starters were Michael Boley, Jonathan Goff (I believe it was him), Webster, Phillips, and Rolle. This consisted of the backup DBs/LBs running offensive pass patterns and the defense adjusting and executing their coverages based on the O. They marched down the field in this drill, in an effort to walk through different coverages based on down and distance. During this time the backups also got a chance on defense, including Mark Herzlich, Tyler Sash, Brian Jackson, and Brian Witherspoon.
The next drill on this field was one on one pass drills between the RBs/TEs and LBs/DBs, with the backup QBs throwing the passes. Some notable plays here were Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw making clean catches up the sideline, and Bradshaw acknowledging the fans on the fence welcoming him back with a little wave and nod of the head. Sash had a pick here, and Bear Pascoe and Henry Hynoski also had a couple catches, as did Travis Beckum on a deeper ball down the far sideline. On Beckum’s reception, the DB covering him, Cary Harris, fell to the ground with what looked like some type of shoulder injury. He was laying prone on the ground for a few minutes, grabbing his right arm. When the trainers came over to attend it looked like they were trying to pop his shoulder back into place.
After this, it was time for full-team workouts on the main field, which the beat writers covered in their reports. We walked over to get a better view, but the majority of the crowd was over there and it was tough to see everything.
Standouts from the drills I was able to see were Corey Webster, Rolle, and Sash. I was really impressed with Webster’s leadership, and obviously his CB prowess as well.