The heat was on, and the breeze was scarce for the morning practice on the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields. The players took the field this morning in shorts and shells, and practiced for the final time before first-round draft pick Tyson Alualu takes the field tonight.
Alualu was in the stadium during the morning practice, reportedly signing his new contract. There was some buzz indicating he would make his way out to the practice fields once the process was completed, but he never left the confines of EverBank Field.
The locker room barber shop must have been open for business over the past 12 hours. The rookies emerged with the typical bad haircuts that usually end up part of the hazing process. Not all of them were sporting freshly coiffed domes, but the few who had gone under the clipper were brutalized badly.
Several players were limited or did not participate during the morning practice session. These players included Jarett Dillard, Daryl Smith, Aaron Kampman, Brad Meester, Justin Smiley, Kynan Forney, Greg Jones, Anthony Smith, Jason Harmon, and D’Anthony Smith.
Smith did not make the trek from the training room to the field, so there is no indication of the severity of his injury. Dillard was doing sprints during the session, so his time on the PUP list may be coming to an end in the near future. He does not appear to be dealing with any lingering issues.
Now, let’s get to the drills.
11 x 11 (Round 1):
The first drill was the typical hurry-up drill with the offensive units completing plays and getting right back to the line of scrimmage to start the next one.
David Garrard connected deep down the sideline with Mike Thomas over the top of Don Carey. The pass was dropped perfectly over the top of coverage and Thomas made a nice grab without breaking stride for a big gain.
Maurice Jones-Drew continues to look sharp out there, displaying his burst and his cutting ability. The cutback is going to be a serious weapon in his arsenal if training camp is any indication. He faked a move to the right, and then cut back behind the left side of the line following Eugene Monroe. The cut was executed perfectly, drawing the defense away from the direction of the play.
Garrard connected with Ernest Wilford on a deep crossing route. Scott Starks was tight in coverage, but the ball was delivered on target and Wilford had position on the ball and hauled it in effortlessly.
David Garrard tried to connect with Marcedes Lewis on a quick slant, but the ball was thrown too far out in front of the tight end, and Scott Starks was able to get a hand on the ball and tip it away, almost forcing an interception off the tip.
Luke McCown attempted to go deep on a post route to Roren Thomas. The pass was slightly overthrown and Thomas made a good effort trying to close the gap. If he was a half step quicker, he probably would have made the grab.
Deji Karim had a McCown pass bounce off his hands on a short slant as he was turning to head up the field before he had actually made the catch.
The defensive backs were working on getting their bodies into the right position when defending the pass. Their coach, Cory Undlin, was being very specific in how he wanted their foot and hand placement to be as they squared up to cover a pass. He also worked extensively on defending the pass after the catch to knock the ball loose.
For anyone who has been at camp, it is very easy to follow what Undlin is doing. He’s one of the more vocal coaches out there, even when he is giving instruction to a player. It makes it real easy to figure out what his focus is during any particular portion of practice.
John Matthews, Clarence Denmark, Mike Thomas, Nate Hughes, and Kassim Osgood all dropped at least one pass during the individual drills.
The passing drills were mostly short to intermediate-range passes, but when they went deep, Luke McCown was struggling with getting the ball placed correctly, missing his receivers over the wrong shoulder on deeper passes.
On the Osgood drops, one hit him squarely in the chest and bounced off. The other pass deflected off his hands. In both cases, the passes were on target.
Denmark missed one very catchable ball, but the other drop was more of an overthrown pass from McCown that he tried to haul in, but it would have been a circus grab if he would have made the catch.
11 X 11 (Round 2):
Terrance Knighton reminded people of just how effective he can be on the line. On one particular play, Knighton broke free into the backfield and came around behind David Garrard, slapping the ball out of his hand. If this had been an opposing quarterback, Pot Roast would have crushed the guy.
Two plays later, Knighton showed he can play heads-up football as well. On a quick slant intended for a tight end, the big tackle batted down Garrard’s pass with emphasis.
Ernest Wilford made a great catch on a deep sideline pass from David Garrard. Wilford had to turn around to haul the pass in while fending off Sean Considine in tight coverage. He was able to make the adjustment and grab the pass for a long gain.
Jeremy Mincey must have been inspired by Pot Roast, because he had an opportunity to bat down another slant pass from David Garrard intended for Ernest Wilford.
Kassim Osgood made a terrific athletic catch on a pass over the top of Derek Cox at the goal line. Osgood fell into the end zone, and came up lame with a shoulder issue. However, he returned to practice a short while later after working with the trainer, and did not appear to be suffering any lingering effects.
Luke McCown attempted to connect with John Matthews on a sideline pass. Josh Gordy had the angle and was able to tip the ball away incomplete.
McCown tried to come back on a deep cross to Clarence Denmark, but the ball was thrown too far out in front of the target. Denmark tried to make a diving grab, but was unable to make the catch.
Walter Curry broke into the backfield and had a bead on Luke McCown, forcing him to launch a deep pass sooner than expected. The pass intended for Ronan Thomas was badly overthrown as a result. Unfortunately, Thomas had gotten behind coverage and was wide open.
McCown tried to go to Tiquan Underwood on a deep sideline pass, but was again forced to hurry his pass because of pressure being applied by Justin Durant. The pass was off target, allowing Josh Gordy to claim an interception right in front of the coaching staff and Gene Smith.
7 X 7 (Round 1):
David Garrard tried to connect with Kassim Osgood on a deep sideline pass with Derek Cox in coverage. The ball was overthrown and missed the intended target by a couple of yards.
Garrard connected with Nate Hughes on a deep slant with William Middleton in tight coverage. The pass was perfectly delivered just beyond the reach of the defensive back on the play, allowing Hughes to make the catch without breaking stride.
Middleton was victimized again on the next play when Ernest Wilford broke loose into the seam on a post route. Garrard nailed the intended target in stride for a decent gain.
Luke McCown targeted Middleton again on the next play, and with the same results. Ernest Wilford made a great catch with Middleton draping him like a cheap suit.
7 X 7 (Red Zone):
Garrard connected with Kassim Osgood and John Matthews on short sideline passes. Neither player was able to get the ball into the end zone.
Luke McCown found Troy Williamson under the post in the end zone, but the play took forever to develop as the receivers struggled to shed coverage.
David Garrard connected with Marcedes Lewis on a fade route, lobbing the ball into the corner of the end zone. Lewis made a great one-handed grab on the play.
Garrard tried to connect with Clarence Denmark in the front of the end zone, but the ball was tipped away by Sean Considine. He came back and tried to hit Nate Hughes on a fade route, but overthrew his intended target for an incomplete pass.
11 X 11 (Red Zone):
Garrard tried to connect with Rashad Jennings on a short slant. Scott Starks got a hand on the ball and batted it away.
Clarence Denmark found an opening behind Larry Hart, who had dropped back into coverage. Garrard fired a bullet, and Hart tried to make a play on the ball, but was not quick enough to get there. This allowed Denmark to snap the pass up for a touchdown.
John Estes muffed a snap from under center for Trevor Harris, causing a turnover.
Luke McCown hit Ernest Wilford on a quick dump off. Wilford found a lane and tip-toed into the end zone for a touchdown.
Garrard tried to hit Marcedes Lewis on a fade route into the back right corner of the south end zone. Unfortunately, the pass was slightly overthrown, just beyond the fingertips of Lewis.
11 X 11 (2 minute):
Garrard hit Rashad Jennings on a quick slant in front of Kirk Morrison. There was no yardage after the catch as Jennings was greeted immediately by Morrison, holding the play to a very short gain.
Garrard tried to hit Kassim Osgood on a short out and up. Osgood attempted to make the turn before he had possession of the pass, and it bounced off his hands falling incomplete.
Luke McCown tried to hit John Matthews on a deep post pattern. The pass was on target, but Matthews struggled with how to handle the ball. He started to go up with his hands, and then suddenly did a little leap to try to body catch the ball. The net result was the ball bounced off his shoulder pads and fell incomplete.
David Garrard tried to hit Nate Hughes on a deep sideline pass. The ball sailed on him and Sean Considine cut off the route and intercepted the pass.
The final play of the practice session was a running play. Rashad Jennings tried to break through the interior of the line, but was stuffed by Atiyyah Ellison and Kirk Morrison when he hit the gap, held to no gain on the play.
The practice was an active one with a lot of different drills. It was a non-contact session, so the defense was somewhat hampered. The pads will go on tonight, and we will get our first look at the newly inked first-round pick. It should be a fun practice to attend.
There was definitely a more upbeat tempo attached to this session, which is encouraging. It appears they are starting to ramp up the intensity now that they have gotten beyond the first few days of shaking the rust off.