|Created by reader Sean Lewandowski|
Yesterday was the final day of public practices. The team was in full pads, the Sun was shining, and BBQ was smoking.
OFF THE CUFF
Everyone that watched the pre-season game versus the Titans saw Matt Flynn check-down to short passes time and again. Fans that only saw that game walked away thinking Flynn was a “game manager” who dinks and dunks his way up the field. Those that have watched practice consistently know better. Yesterday, however, all the quarterbacks were checking down, swinging out, and dumping off with yawning regularity. It was not hard to read Flynn’s body language and eyes as he would drop back and scan down field hopefully, only to resign himself to a swing pass, or some other check down time and again. Russell Wilson made a few more attempts to stretch things out, but not necessarily because he was making good decisions with the ball, as evidenced by the number of incompletions. Overall, I counted 14 of the 17 completions from the three quarterbacks as short passes during the 7v7 drill. The defense deserves some credit for shutting things down, but the receivers and offensive coordinator should take some responsibility for finding a way to create more down field opportunities.
Things started opening up in the second half of practice. Flynn threw a long touchdown to Ben Obomanu. The pass was thrown a little late, and so it came up short, but Obomanu made a nice catch with a defender draped all over him. Wilson had a similar long touchdown to Terrell Owens. Flynn attempted to make the same play on the next snap, but overthrew Owens by a step. Flynn led a nice scoring drive toward the end of practice that included a nice crossing pattern to Kellen Winslow Jr., and a what appeared to be a touchdown on a slant to Obomanu. The coaches will often call back touchdowns that happen too quickly in order to allow the offense to get enough snaps that drive. They ended up missing a field goal after the reset. Regardless, this was a strong day for the secondary.
Referring to this unit as a secondary simply does not cut it. They are second to none. More and more it is looking like they will have a new member join the crew. Phillip Adams had what may have been his strongest practice. His highlight play was a diving breakup of a Wilson pass early in team drills. Adams has the inside track on making the team since he can play both inside and outside. He’s an athletic kid who does not stand out in terms of strength the way the other players in his group do, but moves fluidly. Unlike some of the other practices, there was not a ton of pass pressure. The performance by this group was possibly their best of camp. It was not flashy with a bunch of picks, but it was stingy.
Terrell Owens is still Terrell Owens
Wilson dropped back to pass in 7v7 drills and did not see an open receiver (see above). He dumped the ball off to Robert Turbin. Owens was running an out route on the play and was headed in a straight line directly at me. When the pass went to Turbin, Owens grimaced and said something to the effect of, “C’mon man!” As a bit of context, I have seen roughly 500-700 pass attempts through training camp, and had not seen a single obvious demonstration of receiver frustration at their quarterback until that moment. Wilson went to Owens on the next play, who was not open, and overthrew him. Maybe it was a coincidence. Maybe it was Wilson trying to placate his receiver. This is part of Owens downside. Do not let yourself believe he is some changed person. He is a talented player, and a troubled person. I continue to think this team is better off without him.
STAND-OUT NEW FACES
WR Lavasier Tuinei
Tuinei had his best practice to date. He caught three nice passes, two from Tarvaris Jackson and one from Flynn. He is showing progress and seems like a logical fit for the practice squad. Phil Bates has tailed off recently, so if they don’t keep both players, it could get interesting.
TE Kellen Winslow Jr.
Winslow was a favorite safety valve on the day. He looked quicker today than he has recently. Here’s to hoping that is a sign of how he will play come Week 1.
Walter Thurmond, John Moffitt, Golden Tate, Mike Morgan, Pierre Allen, Ron Parker, Malcolm Smith, Cordarro Law, Zach Miller, Matt McCoy, Lemuel Juanpierre, Anthony McCoy.
THINGS I NOW KNOW
- Ricardo Lockette is not responding well to this increased competition at wide receiver. He has missed a number of practices with injury since the Braylon Edwards and Owens signings, and is nowhere near the receiver he was the first few days of camp. He had been demonstrative and making plays throughout practice early on. Someone who watched only the last week of practice would assume he was going to be cut. Word is he is unwilling to participate in special teams. The guy better start competing, or that cut may become a reality.
The overall practice felt subdued. It is not hard to tell when the defense is jacked up. There is plenty of talking, mostly from Ken Norton Jr. Most of the players and coaches were mild-mannered. Call it workmanlike if you want to assume the best. The truth is that we are approaching the dog days of camp. The players are fighting fatigue and injury, while also doing the same thing day in and day out. Today marks the first day they are allowed to leave the team hotel and return to family and significant others. That, alone, should recharge some batteries. Careers are being defined in a matter of days for some of these men. There are still 90+ players in camp where only 53 will make the final roster, plus a few on PUP, and 8 on the practice squad. There is no guarantee that the practice squad will be made up of players in camp right now. When I see guys sitting out with injury like Allen, Law, and Parker, or turning in nondescript performances like Lockette, it is hard not to wonder what will come of them. It is easy to sit on the sidelines and say that you would handle that situation differently if you were out there. You would play through any injury. You would give maximum effort on every single play. The truth is less predictable. Anyone that has tried out for a team, and not made it, knows. Anyone that has sat at the end of the bench knows. Convincing yourself to rise up and stay positive when everything looks bleak is not natural for many. Ignoring professional trainers and doctors advice in order to get back on the field is not natural. It is the unnatural that makes the NFL the marvel that it is. I wish the best for all these players throughout the rest of camp, and hope they become their best.
Thanks for reading my training camp notes. You can expect plenty more analysis coming up.