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Wednesday's practice notes

Postby vrabinec » Thu Aug 07, 2008 11:55 am

While the rest of the team is going through walk-throughs, the kickers are booting kickoffs. Teeing it up at the thirty with a bout a 10 MPH wind at their backs, Ernster puts the first one about 3 yards deep in the end zone.

Reed kicks one to the 2 yard line.

Ernster puts one 8 yards deep into the end zone. He’s kicking it farther than Reed, but the trajectory is about 20 feet shallower at its highest point than Reed’s kicks. So, I’m not sure how much we’d gain by having Ernster kick off instead of Reed.

Reed is the only one who practices the on-side kick. He drops 3 right where he wants them, then hits one too far, out of bounds.

Ernster puts one 1 yard out of the end zone, but again it was more of a line drive. Still, if the ball’s going out of the end zone, pretty tough to return it.

In the walk-through, Washington makes a fancy one-handed catch. Too bad he can’t do that with his shoulder pads and helmet on.

Aside from the good hands people, the on-side kick first team has Fox, Humpal, Frazier, Madison, and Mason. Might bode well for them, if you’re rooting for any of them to make the team.

After stretches, the team splits and I go off into the farthest corner to watch the DB’s. It’s all the way across 3 fields, so I’ll miss a couple of the first plays when they go to the scrimmage. Troy is there in street clothes. I was hoping to see them going through some drills, but for 10 minutes they have walk-throughs on rotating coverages. Nasty stuff. I’d hate to be a rookie trying to remember all that crap.

While they’re doing that, the defensive linemen are hitting the three man sled as groups. Of course Hoke comes up to take the hits with the first line. Paxson takes the nose for the second line between Eason and Kirschke. With McBean, Prince and Clement running as the third line. The third line doesn’t hit the sled anywhere near as hard as the first two lines.

The linemen then switch to delivering a two-handed jam to the man, then clubbing him aside. The RDE hits with his right arm, the LDE with his left. The nose tackles take turns on each side.

Paxson is very quick, he hits the man hard and has a nice club, but at the end of the delivery, he doesn’t push the man behind him with the same authority that Smith and Keisel do. Still, he looks pretty good.

Prince has bad form, he’s slapping the man instead of clubbing, his arm is coming across his body in a push motion instead of being stiff, straight out and used as a club. Coach Mitchell has some words with him about it.

Casey Hampton is off on the lower, fourth field. He’s in shorts and an un-numbered jersey, and a helmet, running maneuvers by himself. He’s coming out of his stance and cutting like a wide receiver, I guess to get his legs under him. It looks like he’s lost about 20 pounds since I saw him at the first practice, another 20 and he’ll look like he did last year. Another 50 and he’ll be back to his rookie form. Even with the extra weight, he’s the most agile of our defensive linemen. Kinda makes me sad to think that, just like Levon Kirkland, the only thing that stood between him and a shot at the Hall of Fame was the tickle of Twinkies on the tonsils.

Ike leaves the practice briefly to go to the bathroom (too much info?)

On the far field, they’re running post patterns, Dixon misses Sherrod, a couple yards behind him.

They try it again, and this time Dixon hits him in the numbers. He’s getting on the same page as the receivers more and more. As he does, you can tell he’s far more of a natural passer than someone like Kordell was. He has a better motion, looser arm, he looks more like a QB.

Potts hits Ward in stride.

Dixon hits #13 in stride (still not sure who #13 is, he’s a tiny white guy who’s pretty shifty and sure handed, but has no shot of making the team)

They practice rolling out. To the right first. Ben hits Miller in stride.

Batch hits Spaeth in stride.

When Dixon rolls out, he’s smooth like a wide receiver, he hits Sherrod in stride.

They roll to the left, and Dixon throws one behind Sherrod.

Ben hits Miller in stride.

Batch throws one behind Spaeth.

Dixon hits Miller in stride.

Potts throws on at Sherrod’s ankles.

The DT’s are taking on the double team. Hoke holds his ground and splits the double team. (of course, keep in mind this is the other defensive linemen acting as blockers, so the guys may look a little better holding their ground in these drills than they would against real offensive linemen.)

All of the linemen look good holding their ground except McBean. He may be the most athletic of our defensive linemen, but unfortunately he is also the worst football player of the group. Too bad.

The inside linebackers are zig-zaagging through 4 full sized dummies, clubbing them as they go though to simulate fighting their way through traffic. Timmons is very quick though the line and hits the dummies hard.

Humpal is even quicker through the line, but doesn’t hit the dummies as hard.

Farrior is smooth and flawless, he times the hits just right and strides perfectly to get through as fast as possible while inflicting the hardest blows. Then he clowns around by stomping one of the dummies that refuses to stand on its own.

Foote looks good in the drill, he’s quick. Not quite as powerful as Timmons or Farrior, but but better than the other ILB’s

Fox is weak at hitting the dummies. I think the coaching staff has a tough decision to make with him. He is clearly the toughest of our special teamers to block, but he is also a problem as a linebacker if he’s forced to come in the game. If we get a couple injuries and he has to come in, opponents will attack him with great success IMO.

The defensive backs finally start their drills. They have a grid of strings set up to simulate going through tires like we old-timers used to do. Travis Williams is very quick through the tires, quicker than Mundy who struggles a bit.

#21 missteps a bit. There’s no defensive #21 on my roster, just Moore. So, since there’s no #25 out on the field, I’m assuming Clark is wearing #21 for some reason for now. He has the most sure hands of the DB’s as they are thrown the ball after getting through the grid.

Ike is the smoothest and most powerful of the DB’s going through the grid.

Anthony Smith is very quick through the grid. I’m really ticked off at him right now for what he does later in the practice, but I can’t deny that he has great footwork. Of the safeties, he’s the only one whose footwork is as good as the corner’s.

Williams goes through again, and looks very good, smooth, fluid.

Assuming Clark is #21, he doesn’t look too quick stepping through the grid.

Mundy almost trips, his footwork is worse than just about anyone.

Grant Mason does trip up, gets his feet tangled in the string. He better hope he makes an impression on special teams, because he’s clearly not on the same agility level as the other guys.

The DB’s turn to tackling drills, tackling the sled. Mundy hits the sled too high with his butt up and his back bowed. The coach gives him some instruction and he comes back and looks better doing it, but he’s still a bit too high.

Anthony Smith misses the sled, it glances off the tip of his shoulder and spins him around. The other DB’s get a chuckle out of it and give him some crap. He comes back and hits the thing hard with good form. Just lost concentration the first time I guess.

Roy Lewis really hits the sled hard. Good form, gets his butt down and picks it up. He’s not much on footwork, but he looks like a solid tackler.

On the middle field, the tight ends are blocking on the OLB’s, the drill is simple, the tight end tries to get outside the OLB and hook him. Miller hooks Donovan Woods and seals him off.

They try Arnold Harrison against Miller, and Miller seals him off too with perfect form.

Patrick Bailey beats Speath. Speath looks a half second too slow getting out of his stance to effectively get outside the OLB.

They go again, and Speath does a better job, doesn’t get him completely sealed off, but gets in good enough position to make it difficult for Bailey to make the play.

Dekker is quick and gets in position to block Bruce Davis, but Davis is too strong for him and gets around anyway, Dekker has to hold him.

They try again, and Davis beats him outside.

Woodley tosses Miller aside like he’s a rag doll.

Spaeth can’t get outside position on Timmons. Not sure what Timmons is doing working out with the OLB’s.

Miller hooks Andre Frazier and seals him off.

Dekker and Bruce Davis stalemate. Davis doesn’t get turned, but Dekker gets him tied up.

They try again, and Davis throws Dekker side and gets outside.

First scrimmage:

Play #3 (missed the first 2) I see the end of a play where we had some sort of secondary breakdown, and Ben hits Ward deep for a touchdown.

Play #4: Receivers are covered, Washington can’t shake loose of Gay, Ben scrambles to his left and tries to hit him anyway but the pass is too low and wide left.

Play #5: Ben hits Washington on a 10 yard slant in front of Mundy.

Play #6: Baker fakes outside and beats McFadden on a 7 yard slant, Batch hits him in the numbers.

Play #7: Stapleton stuffs Martavius Price on the bull rush, and Batch hits Bloom on a crossing pattern out of the slot.

Play #8: Starks stuffs Martavius Prince, again on the bull rush. Baker is open over the middle, but Batch throws it way behind him and Patrick Bailey drops the interception.

Play #9: Tony Hills does a nice job blocking Price. Batch hits #13 in stride on a crossing pattern and #13 drops the ball.

Play #10: Batch drops back to pass and doesn’t see anyone open. Sweed is three yards behind Anthony Smith, trying to get Batch’s attention, but Batch takes off to the right and runs out of bounds. Looks like Smith is still letting people get behind him. If that’s the QB and top receiver of the Patriots, Colts, Bengals, Browns, Texans, Cowboys, or Giants, 9 or our games this year, it’s a certain touchdown.

Play #11: Timmons beats Hills like a drum on the backside blitz and is in Potts’ face before he can see Baker breaking open over the middle.

Play #12: Farrior comes on the inside blitz and is in as Potts throws into triple coverage on Baker. Incomplete. Bad decision.

They practice kickoff returns. Reed kicks it 3 yards deep in the end zone (don’t get excited, there’s a tail wind and it’s a lot easier with practice balls that are scuffed and soft) Mendenhall is back to take the kick. Interesting. Usually, when Cowher used to want to toughen up a rookie skill position player, he’d have him field kicks and punts for a while. Wonder if Tomlin is doing the same thing here.

Bloom fields a kick and brings it back. I know they aren’t going full speed after the return guy, but Bloom puts on a spin move that’s so ridiculously quick it makes me giggle.

Next scrimmage, starting at their own 10:

Play #1: Mendenhall runs left. Clark comes up on the blitz and is in the hole. Marvel rolls Keisel out of the play.

Play #2: Ben hits Miller on a 7 yard crossing pattern.

Play #3: Ben hits Washington for 7 on a comeback at the sideline.

Play #4: Ben hits Miller over the middle again, but Carter comes up and knocks the ball out of Miller’s hands before he can tuck it away.

Play #5: Mahan is blatantly holding Hoke (even the coaches call it out), and Willie runs through the hole on the right, but only for 2 yards as the ILB’s pile it up. Bring it back.

Play #6: Mendenhall sweeps left but there’s nothing there. Our backup RDE and ROLB are doing a good job of controlling the line, but I can’t see who it is because the fat lady and he chubby son in front of me are standing and waddling out of the bleachers, going for a dozen hot dogs no doubt. Mendenhall cuts it all the way back to the other side, and Woods is out of position because he was giving chase, and Humpal is tied up in traffic inside. Big gain.

Play #7: Marvel stuffs Kirschke on the bull rush. Baker beats Gay and Batch hits him on a 10 yard out.

Play #8: Mendenhall sweeps left. Starks is in at left tackle and he rolls Kirschke to open a nice hole. Starks looks much better on the left side than he did on the right.

Play #9: Mendenhall sweeps right and Colon opens a nice hole.

They practice field goals:

Ernster gets the ball down nice and quick, looks like a solid holder. Reed punches a couple through. He doesn’t miss a single kick all practice.

They practice the pooch kick, and Moore bobbles one. I’m getting a bit worried about his hands on the kick returns. That’s the second or third time I’ve seen him bobble the thing.

Reed punches a 48 yarder through.

They line up to try a 53 yarder, but it’s a fake. McFadden is the gunner, and he’s not fooled at all. He’s right there to make the play.

The special teams coach simulates time picking down by counting down from ten and the snap goes off without a hitch and Reed boots a 38 yarder.

The linemen go off to the center field for the one-on-one pass rush drill. I guess they moved the drill from under the pines by the fans so some loser like me doesn’t listen in on the conversations. Silverback loops wide around Marvel. He got around him, but it was a really wide trajectory.

Keisel looks like a little boy running into his father when he goes up against Kemoeatu. I may have been pleased with Essex at left guard, but Kemo is something else.

Mahan does a good job of stopping Hoke. Stood him up.

Simmons stuffs Aaron Smith with perfect form.

Woodley blows right by Colon like he wasn’t even there. I must sound like a broken record saying that, but I haven’t seen anyone block Woodley one-on-one yet. In the scrimmage, the offense was double teaming him.

Marvel stuffs Keisel, doesn’t give an inch.

Kemo stuffs McBean.

Paxson beats Mahan with a nice swim move.

On the near field in the 7 on 7, Holmes toasts Ike on a 15 yard crossing pattern and Ben hits him in the hands.

Woodley beats Colon with a rip move.

Gay is all over Nate Washington on a post, Ben checks down to Moore.

Silverback tries a fake speed rush outside then cuts in, but Starks stuffs him.

Kyle Clement beats Essex with a nice rip move. Clement is starting to get my attention. Don’t know much about him, but he’s a player.

Hartwig stuffs Hoke who tries a rip move.

Lentz stuffs McBean who tries some move that I’m not sure what it is.

Martavius Price takes a shot and beats Lentz by popping him head on then jamming him to the side.

Starks stuffs Bruce Davis. Davis tried a rip and a pretty decent spin.

Davis takes another shot, tries to rip inside, but Starks swallows him up.

Batch hits Baker on a deep post pattern.

Sweed beats Madison inside and Batch hits him on a 7 yard crossing pattern. Sweed is running much better inside routes than he did in the first practice. He seems to be learning quickly.

Patrick Bailey puts a beautiful swim move on Lentz and beats him inside.

Woodley blows right past Parquet on an inside power move.

Baker beats Deshea on a deep crossing pattern, but Batch misses him.

Bruce Davis beats Hills with a speed rush outside.

Batch look to throw to Bloom, but Deshea has him covered underneath. Batch checks off to Speath and hits him in the hands, but Carter comes up and knocks the ball out of his hands.

Woodley blows by Parquet on the outside speed rush.

Potts hits Speath on a 10 yard slant behind Farrior.

Bruce Davis beats Hills with a nice rip move.

The coach tells them to go again, and this time Davis tries an outside speed rush. Hills does a better job of getting his feet out there to get in position, but he’s off balance. Davis could have pulled him over forward but doesn’t try and Hills makes the block.

Hartwig stuff Clement on the bull rush.

Dixon hits Baker on a skinny post, beautiful pass. Just wait until you see Dixon in the pre-season game. Yeah, he’s gonna screw up at times, but you’ll love the passes he hits when he’s on the same page as the receiver.

Keisel beats Parquet by punching into him, then yanking his arm down and sliding around.

Silverback blows by Hills on the outside speed rush.

On the near field, Ben hits Ward on a deep crossing pattern. Ward has tucked away the ball and is turning to go back to the line for the next play when Anthony Smith comes up and decks Ward. I’m furious. Now, I know Ward is no angel, but that was nothing short of a sucker punch. Ward stays on the ground for 10 seconds and the coaches immediately pull Smith off the field. The crowd is quite, but they coaches and players are across the field from us and I can’t hear anything that’s said, but Tomlin goes over and I see flame coming out of his mouth. Then LeBeau goes to work on Smith. He never raises his head to look at them, he just kneels there. Athletically he’s the second best safety on the team after Troy. But this guy has issues between the ears. I’ve been a supporter of his, but I’m losing that battle with myself right now.

Ben hits Miller on a short skinny post down the middle.

Spaeth makes the catch of the day, a one handed over the shoulder grab (left handed none the less) on a deep post pattern to the right. He had a ½ step on Timmons and Ben laid it in there perfectly.

Ike has Holmes blanketed on a deep crossing pattern and Ben checks down to Moore.

Clark has Reid covered out of the slot. Ike jams Sweed at the line and doesn’t let him get off. Ben checks down to Latsko.

Last scrimmage:

Play #1: Screen left to Ward. Kemo is out in front and can’t find anyone to block. Of course, it’s not all his fault as nobody on the defense wants to be the one that takes him on. Kemo finally rolls Foote who was late getting over to the play. Nice 10-15 yard gain.

Play #2: Paker runs off-tackle left, but Clark blows the play up before it gets started. Parker is still not running 100%. I don’t know at this point whether he’s holding back because it’s practice or if he isn’t right yet, but had this been the old Willie, he would have gotten the corner on Clark and had a 20 yard run. If he can’t turn the corner on Clark, he’s gonna have trouble making those long runs we’re used to seeing.

Play #3: Kemo blows Hoke off the line 3 yards, but the ILB’s collapse nicely. Moore skips into the line, not sure what he was doing.

Play #4: Hartwig does a nice job of sealing off the left side, and Parker cuts through on the right. Timmons comes over from the back side and keeps it to a 4 yard gain.

Play #5: WR screen to Sweed. Mundy reads it well and comes up to slice through and keep it to a 3 yard gain.

Play #6: Russel runs right, but Timmons beats him into the hole from the back side. No gain.

Play #7: Reid comes back out of the slot and Dixon fakes the reverse left then takes off on a naked bootleg right. Donovan Woods bites on the fake like a Large Mouth Bass on a Minnow, and Dixon sprints around the end for a long gain, maybe even a touchdown. For a rookie, Dixon really has good ball handling skills, sells the fake well.

Play #8: Vincent tries a plunge up the middle, but Humpal slides nicely into the hole and stops it at the line.

Play #9: Bruce Davis blows by the left tackle and is in on Potts before he can throw the ball, Davis bats it back into Potts’ face.

Play #10: Simmons loops around Miller on a short pull to the right, Woodley gets caught on an inside rush and Miller drives him down the line. Moore cuts outside for a long gain.

Play #11: Moore up the middle for a couple yards. It looks like Hartwig is running with the first team line now. Don’t know if that’s permanent.

Play #12: Kemo has Hoke blocked, and Russel runs left behind him. But Farrior sniffs it out and comes across from the other side to stuff it at the line.

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Re: Wednesday's practice notes

Postby Witchblade » Thu Aug 07, 2008 1:06 pm

Once again, Tkx!

A little government and a little luck are necessary in life, but only a fool trusts either of them.
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Re: Wednesday's practice notes

Postby fadden » Thu Aug 07, 2008 1:52 pm

you've said that Foote was better than Timmons in some of the rushing drills, giving an argument for why Foote is still looking to be the opening day starter.

But from your notes, on actual rushing plays Timmons is a difference maker while there is no mention of Foote outside getting Kemo's wrath at one point.

Is Foote making plays, and you just aren't mentioning them because he's Larry Foote, or is he as invisible in scrimmages as you make it sound?

also: pretty much everything you say about hartwig is positive and almost everything mahan related is negative. is this coincidence, bias, or is this as no-contest as it sounds?

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Re: Wednesday's practice notes

Postby vrabinec » Thu Aug 07, 2008 2:16 pm

fadden wrote:you've said that Foote was better than Timmons in some of the rushing drills, giving an argument for why Foote is still looking to be the opening day starter.

But from your notes, on actual rushing plays Timmons is a difference maker while there is no mention of Foote outside getting Kemo's wrath at one point.

Is Foote making plays, and you just aren't mentioning them because he's Larry Foote, or is he as invisible in scrimmages as you make it sound?

also: pretty much everything you say about hartwig is positive and almost everything mahan related is negative. is this coincidence, bias, or is this as no-contest as it sounds?

Yeah, Timmons definitely shows up in more plays during the scrimages while Foote looks more technically sound during drills. When Timmons is on the attack, he is vicious, but when he's asked to read and react, he's not as good as Foote. Just because Foote isn't getting mentioned in the scrimages, doesn't mean he's not making plays. The guys that mostly get mentioned are the ones that bust through the line and are very visible, either that or the guys on the line that I start out watching at the snap.

The right side of the defense is making plays, but they tend to make them as a group when Foote is in there, rather than him standing out and being the guy who busts things up. This could be wrong, but, based on what I see out of them in drills, I suspect Timmons is a boom or bust kind of guy right now, either he's breaking through the line and making the play, or his bad technique is getting him blown off, because there are plenty of plays he doesn't show up in.

Mahan has not been bad. I don't think I've bashed him more than a couple times. But I honestly think he has already lost 10 pound from the first practice to this one Wednesday. He can't aford to lose the weight. And neither of the centers has gone against Hampton, so I can't really say how ell they are doing. Hoke is a decent NT, but he's not at the level they'll be going against. That said, IMO, the competition for the center is over. Hartwing may not know the offense as well as Mahan yet, but he is clearly the stronger blocker in my mind based on comparing how they block against the same guys on our defense.

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Re: Wednesday's practice notes

Postby Sillmiller » Thu Aug 07, 2008 5:08 pm

very good info thanks, please keep up the posts

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Re: Wednesday's practice notes

Postby SteelCityFan » Thu Aug 07, 2008 6:27 pm

Thanks for the update! Great work!

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Re: Wednesday's practice notes

Postby thesteelhammer » Thu Aug 07, 2008 7:52 pm

you are the man!
Would love to see your stuff on our front page also. Team
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Re: Wednesday's practice notes

Postby trenches » Thu Aug 07, 2008 10:15 pm

Hi praise again. I love this stuff, vrabinec!

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Re: Wednesday's practice notes

Postby mattfwood » Thu Aug 07, 2008 10:21 pm

Ryan Clark is wearing 21 in practice in honor of Sean Taylor, his good friend from their days together with the Redskins. Team
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Re: Wednesday's practice notes

Postby trenches » Thu Aug 07, 2008 10:29 pm

It will be great to get Clark back... especially if Troy ever gets healthy... that's a BIG IF of course. Team
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Re: Wednesday's practice notes

Postby Nel » Fri Aug 08, 2008 12:40 am

This is very good reading, thanks vrabinec.

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Re: Wednesday's practice notes

Postby Nashsteeler » Fri Aug 08, 2008 2:26 pm

The linemen go off to the center field for the one-on-one pass rush drill. I guess they moved the drill from under the pines by the fans so some loser like me doesn’t listen in on the conversations. Silverback loops wide around Marvel. He got around him, but it was a really wide trajectory.

You can really tell the Dong has been in camp "helping" the linebackers when Silverback does this.

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