Minicamp: Saturday Observations
Posted 02 May 2010 - 12:45 AM
What I saw in the practices today...
OUT ON THE SIDEWALK:
As was covered on Panthers.com, some fans decided to have a little tailgate outside the practice today. I had to chuckle when I walked up and saw the setup they had. A few of the players even took part, getting a snack or two.
Like yesterday, Jerry Richardson came out for the afternoon practice, but not the morning one. He spent pretty much all his time on the cart talking to Marty Hurney.
Team president Danny Morrison was out again, making friends and handing out rosters. In each of the three practices I attended, I was given a roster. Twice, it was Morrison who gave it to me. Have to appreciate the work he’s doing.
Also saw Brian Baker walk up and have a fan ask if his guys were ready. His response? “We have four months to get ready” (aaaahhh, that’d be a no).
Steve Smith signed a few pre-practice autographs.
Jon Beason, Jamar Williams and Mortty Ivy all came running up together. Fox came up behind, commenting to fans “I think they’re too busy to stop for autographs.”
Dexter Jackson has kind of a strange, 19th century looking beard.
Louis Leonard has a gap in his front teeth, though nowhere near as large as that other guy who’s known for a gappy grin (what was his name again…I forget…)
Rookie corner R J Stanford has some words tattooed on his neck. Didn’t get a good enough look to see what they said.
Hard to miss Tony Pike when he walks up since he’s the only non-lineman who’s 6’6”.
Gamble no longer has any dreads (not sure when he lost them).
And just as a side note, it’s actually kind of amusing watching guys try to walk normally on a sidewalk wearing cleats.
Jonathan Stewart out as usual. He practices less than Allen Iverson, but plays as well as Iverson in his prime on game day too.
DeAngelo Williams also not in the mix, and no Thomas Davis today.
The Tyler boys - Brayton and Tank - sat out of the D-Line work, though Brayton spent a fair amount of time in one session working against a tackling dummy on his own.
(at one point I think it must have trash-talked him or something because I saw him grab it and knee it in the nuts)
First pass of the day that I saw was an overthrow from Cantwell aimed at Kenny Moore. In a way, that set the tone for the practices to come. Quarterbacks were off target pretty much all day. Too high, too low, wide left, wide right…You name it, they threw it. In fairness to the QBs, more than a few passes that actually were on target wound up being dropped. But still, it just wasn’t their day.
Best looking QB of the day? You could make an argument it was Jimmy Clausen. While Clausen had his off moments too, he also had some where he looked brilliant. He’s not as slow to react as yesterday, and on one play threw a brilliant fake (by brilliant I mean that it fooled me). He also at one point put a bullet of a pass in Jeff King’s gut that I’m surprised didn’t go right through him. As mentioned though, he wasn’t immune from mistakes, among them a bad choice on a pass play that resulted in a pick by Chris Gamble.
The broad gap of superiority Moore had yesterday was lessened today. Was Moore still largely better? Maybe, but he had a day full of overthrows, miscommunication, and grounders. One particularly bad miscue led to a pickoff by Sherrod Martin that he enthusiastically ran back. That play was one I’m sure he’d like to have back.
Before you bail on Moore though, you should take note of something else that happened today.
After a rather badly thrown pass, Moore’s demeanor and body language took a rather sharp turn. He looked extremely pissed off - apparently at himself - and when he stepped to the line for the next play, things were a little different. It started with his cadence, which was louder and more authoritative, and continued with his execution. On each of the next four plays I watched, Moore was efficient and his passes were crisply thrown and on target.
Bottom Line: The quarterback position will be fun to watch come time for training camp.
Additional QB Notes:
Coach Rip Scherer had the guys practicing some subtle hand and head fakes in individual drills.
Matt Moore’s head swivels a lot more than the other QBs. The others tend to focus in one direction.
Clausen’s mechanics are incredibly precise. Watch him throw the ball twenty times and the last one will look exactly like the first one.
Tony Pike was the only quarterback I saw do much scrambling today. The others all tended toward straight dropbacks.
Pike had a nice toss or two, but he’s not in the class of Moore or Clausen at this point. Right now, he looks like he’s competing for a roster spot. That could change, of course. We’ll see.
THE BUBBLE GUYS:
Runningback duties today were split between new acquisition Josh Vaughan (#40) who looked decent, and Mike Goodson. Didn’t see Tyrell Sutton out there. Could have been hurt, but I hadn’t heard anything. Just as likely the team has seen what they need to see and decided to take a look at Mike Goodson.
Unknown whether Goodson believes his job is in danger, but he worked hard today to give the team a lot to think about. That’s a good thing, honestly. It’s better if Goodson can show himself to be a contributor since it gives the team more options and it means they didn’t waste a draft pick when they took him.
As to Dwayne Jarrett, saw more good than bad from him today. He had a really nice spinning catch during scrimmage. During goal line drills he rolled Charles Godfrey after Godfrey got in his way on a route (didn’t look like it took much effort).
Jarrett’s still firmly in the number two receiver spot, and will likely remain there until further notice barring unforeseen developments. Preseason will probably be what tells the tale, as he’s been known at times to look better in practice than against actual competition. Stay tuned.
Armanti Edwards continues to impress. One of the better visuals of the day came when Hunter Cantwell threw a pass a little behind him. Edwards caught it with one hand (his left) right on his hip. Like yesterday, nothing that came close to him hit the ground while I was watching. He could be the real deal, but then as the saying goes, lots of guys do well in shorts and not so well in pads.
Brandon LaFell had some flashes, especially on one really nice long pass from Clausen. One pass that was thrown high to him went off his hands. He’ll need to pull those down if he really wants to be the guy. Overall not bad, though. He still doesn’t quite stand out like Edwards, but his game speed is good and I have some hope that he’ll be impressive come time for training camp.
Caught a little of the work being done by Jordan Pugh and Aaron Francisco. They’re certainly athletic, but safety is a tough position to evaluate with no pads. Credit to Francisco for at one point recognizing a gap in the defensive formation and pointing it out.
One thing you notice if you spend any time watching Jeff Davidson is that he’s always teaching. In-between each play, Davidson has something to say, and it’s usually a lot.
Defensive offsides on an early scrimmage play made Brian Baker blow a gasket.
Speaking of Baker, while he still spent a fair share of words on Ed Johnson, he spread the ‘tough love” around plenty today. Among his other targets, Corvey Irvin, Louis Leonard and Greg Hardy. Everette Brown still seems to be his favorite pupil at the moment.
Over on the offensive side, OL coach Dave Magazu was pretty tough on Rob Petitti and Steve Justice today. To be fair though, he was an unhappy man in general. Magazu is one of those guys who isn’t loud, but gets verrrrry precise with his words when he’s angry.
Caught sight of new receiver coach Tyke Tolbert showing his guys how to run routes. Had heard about him doing that.
Tolbert was also very vocal and effusive in his praise when they did something right. He very loudly praised Wallace Wright once, yelling “That’s how you run a route! I see you Wallace! Sweet!”
Tolbert’s preferred spot in scrimmage? Deep middle, watching the receiving routes.
Got a look at Jeff Rodgers working with the special teamers, but wasn’t close enough to perceive much of anything about what was going on.
LB Coach Richard Smith might well be just as intense as DL Coach Brian Baker, but given where the linebackers tend to practice, from my vantage point it’s not as easy to see him except from a ways off.
Posted 02 May 2010 - 12:46 AM
Lot of fun had by the team during the stretching drills run by Jerry Simmons.
Early on, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart weren’t taking part, and apparently decided to do a little “freestyle” stretching that looked like something out of a bad ballet class. Seeing this, Trainer Ryan Vermillion walked over and said “34, blend in”. After a polite grin and shrug, Williams joined in the “standard” stretching routine.
In the later session, while everyone else was following Jerry Simmons instructions (like a giant game of Simon Says), back in the back, JJ Jansen, Jason Baker, John Kasay and Steve Smith looked like they were practicing synchronized swimming with no water.
Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen were gabbing during the stretches. Hunter Cantwell and Tony Pike were on their own. Don’t read anything into that though. The quarterback club spent plenty of time all together today.
Although I have no idea why, after some time spent in the morning stretch, Jerry Simmons called for everyone’s attention and yelled “Let’s have a round of applause for Schwartzie”. A round was indeed given, with a chuckle or two. Would love to know what was behind all that.
THE BIG UGLYS:
As mentioned, dave Magazu was a rather unhappy person today. After one badly run drill, he simply stopped and didn’t say a word. The whole OL group just kind of stood there looking uncomfortable. A little later, another miscue prompted a private whispered convo with Duke Robinson. I was able to make out the word “dumbass” though I didn’t get the impression he was applying that to Robinson as teammates who heard it laughed. Shortly thereafter, Magazu flatly said “There’s a reason for this s—t.”
The angriest moment? Probably when someone had a rough time hitting the sled. Like Baker yesterday, Magazu pointed out that a blocking sled doesn’t hit back. He added that if they couldn’t move a blocking sled, what was going to happen when they were facing a 300 pound defensive tackle? In short, he said if you get rejected by a blocking sled, you’ve got no chance.
On the flipside, When OL Coach Dave Magazu wanted someone to show the young guys the right way to do a drill, he chose center Ryan Kalil. Magazu told the assembled linemen “Watch here while Ryan shows you all how to do this right.” Indeed he did, and I was reminded watching him of just how mobile he is for a big, solid blocker.
Also, couldn’t tell you who it was, but one of the Uglys let out a loud belch during OL drills. I think the guys might have wanted to laugh, but probably were afraid to given the general mood Magazu was in.
And one kind of fun moment for me in the morning session: I was standing on the hill behind where the OL drills were being run and taking notes. Jordan Gross and Jeff Otah were off to the side talking. Right as I happened to look at Otah, he happened to look back. He stared at me for a few seconds, then gave me a little nod and smiled. I returned the acknowledgement.
Couldn’t help but wonder if he was simply being friendly to a fan or if he somehow knew how many times I’d referred to him as a “Big Ugly”. If so, it’s nice to know he’d rather smile at me than break me in half. Occurred to me that he might have gotten a tip from Jordan Gross about an earlier conversation (more about that later).
No practice is complete without Steve Smith faking someone out of his shorts. Today’s victim of underwear loss was Brian Witherspoon.
Dexter Jackson is extremely quick and can turn on a dime. He’ll need more than that to be a solid receiver, but it’s a start.
As mentioned, fair number of drops today. Saw Kenny Moore drop a few. A little worried about him.
C J Wilson got a good amount of playing time at corner today.
Nice day for Captain Munnerlyn. He stayed stride for stride with Steve Smith on a pass that was overthrown. He also broke up a fade route that was aimed at Dwayne Jarrett. Later heard Munnerlyn say Jarrett had tried to push him off.
Little doubt that Eric Norwood will be used to rush the passer from the DE spot plenty this year, even if he’s mainly an LB.
Another play, a goal line drill, saw Charles Godfrey get in Smitty’s way on a crossing route. Smitty pulled the towel from his waist band and threw it like a penalty flag.
More than one of the goal line plays today would have been sacks had the pads been on.
Trent Guy caught a nice pass from Matt Moore. He’s got some skills.
Duke Robinson wound up flopped all over somebody on one scrimmage play. I felt sorry for that guy.
Young punter Blake Haudan boomed some nice kicks today.
Also practicing punt returns today: Trent Guy, Wallace Wright, Brian Witherspoon.
Charley Martin made a diving catch on a pass that elicited cheers from teammates.
The linebackers and defensive linemen joined together today to work on stripping the ball.
I’ve noticed Steve Smith chats with John Kasay a lot. Not terribly surprising given they’re the longest tenured guys on the team. They’ve been through a lot together.
Bit of offense/defense rivalry showing. When Matt Moore called off a play saying “Whoa, whoa. whoa, whoa”, some of the defensive guys mimicked him, a tad mockingly.
Last play of the day: Moore had dropped back for a pass, but one of the O-Linemen stepped too close and he wound up tripping. It was a fitting end to a generally off day.
As a final note, I had a chance to talk to some players I hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting before. Among them, Jon Beason, DeAngelo Williams and Jordan Gross. All were very nice and quite friendly.
Jokingly asked Beason what position he played. He replied “Center” to which I said “That explains the fifty number.”
To Williams, who wasn’t wearing a jersey, I said “Do you play for this team?” He chuckled and said “occasionally”.
And Mr. Gross? Told him it was nice to meet the Chief of the Big Uglys. His answer? “That’s a nice title.”
(my work is done)
Posted 02 May 2010 - 12:49 AM
Posted 02 May 2010 - 01:07 AM
Moore having open contempt for Clausen doesn't do anyone any good imo.
Also will you be doing a writeup for the final practice tomorrow as well?
Posted 02 May 2010 - 01:11 AM
Can't be there tomorrow.
You and Catman have conflicting reports on the camaraderie between Clausen and Moore. Personally, I hope you're right.
Moore having open contempt for Clausen doesn't do anyone any good imo.
Also will you be doing a writeup for the final practice tomorrow as well?
As to Clausen and Moore, yeah they were gabbing during stretching, but for me the jury's still out on what their relationship will be.
There were other times during practice where they didn't look particularly social, but given that today didn't look like a good day, that might be understandable.
Posted 02 May 2010 - 01:14 AM
Hate to say it, but for my money the team in general looked a little off today, especially the quarterbacks. Happily, it’s still just minicamp. That doesn’t mean everything was negative, mind you, but overall it was rather blah..
Posted 02 May 2010 - 01:42 AM
Catman72 actually found me today (only guy with a notebook, yep ) and I got the usual "you with the media" question from a couple of others.
Posted 02 May 2010 - 01:45 AM
Good read. I remember when I played FB in high scholl how weird it was wearing cleats from the Locker room outside to the field.
yeah it feels kinda weird..but it gets u pumped up and makes the awesome sound...CLICK CLACK...CLICK CLACK
Posted 02 May 2010 - 01:47 AM
Posted 02 May 2010 - 01:52 AM
Though I wonder what spot he's competing for. I can see him more as the slot guy, and not necessarily the #2.
Posted 02 May 2010 - 06:42 AM
I know it's nothing to see from a FB in 'non pads' sessions but i'm intrigued by the fact they drafted the best FB of 2009 class (Fiammetta) and they signed the best FB of 2010 class (Rashawn Jackson) as an UDFA...
Nice read BTW