While I attended part of Monday’s Day 13 of training camp, RSH has you more than covered on the action that went on then, better than I could say due to my later arrival. Day 14, on the other hand, I attended in full, and thus have a better understanding of the full context of the practice than I did the day before. So let’s get right to that.
It was a more subdued practice than the day before. As you probably heard, there were no pads on, and it ended quite early, at 11:10 AM. My guess is this had to do with this being the last practice before the next preseason game against Seattle. As part of this, the first stringers saw very little action in most drills. This became evident immediately after warmup for one example. Von Miller and Bradley Chubb were tossing a football around right in front of the fans while the rest of the EDGEs were on a drill. Miller also hyped up the fans with a clap demonstration. At the same time, Phillip Lindsay, Royce Freeman, Emmanuel Sanders, Courtland Sutton, DaeSean Hamilton, and Tim Patrick were observing on the offensive side of the drills.
As far as both 11 on 11 and 7 on 7 drills went, I felt that there was little that was either outstanding or terrible. The lack of pads and subsequent contact may have to do with that, as it’s tougher to judge how a play would turn out otherwise, but I found it notable that no players stood out, either for good for bad, even while there were plays that went good or bad.
In watching these drills, it definitely felt like I was watching a Mike Shanahan era team. Zone blocking, bootlegs and misdirection plays were the grand majority of offensive play calls, and it’s clear the defense had to adjust accordingly to that. While it’s yet to be seen how much that will dominate in the regular season or even preseason, it was clearly a point of emphasis on this day.
Another point of emphasis was the red zone. The practice concluded with a solid 25 minutes devoted entirely to red zone drills, much longer than any other drill during the day. From the fans’ viewpoint, this was quite engaging since they ran the red zone drills right in front of them on the left side. Here were the highlights I took away from the showcase of the day:
- It started with a very nice bubble screen from Flacco to Patrick that would be an easy touchdown.
- Drew Lock hit Noah Fant on a well executed bootleg touchdown.
- Lock then followed that up with a nice slant pass to Sanders in the end zone.
- Fant would collect another touchdown in the far corner from Brett Rypien. On this play in particular I thought it was the best route I’ve seen Fant run.
- The defense had their wins, however. Immediately after the Fant touchdown directly above, Justin Simmons locked down Fant on an attempt to him that he didn’t fight through.
- Shelby Harris could have blown up the pocket on one play if pads were on. And Zach Kerr had a nice swim move that disrupted the quarterback’s pass.
- The one interception in the red zone came from Jash Watson, who stepped right in front of a Rypien pass that didn’t anticipate Watson being there.
Even beyond the concluding red zone block, most drills were either 11 on 11, or 7 on 7 with the line groups off with their respective coaches. I only recall two exceptions to this. One was five minutes of field goal drills, where nothing went visibly wrong, and Brandon McManus made it clear that he’s the kicker of the present and future. The other was five minutes of fielding punts with noise on, with Colby Wadman kicking end over end punts that may have been designed to up the difficulty further. There was only one muff from this drill, off the hands of Kelvin McKnight.
As far as the remainder of the practice, here are some additional notes, roughly in chronological order:
- Vic Fangio may have earned a “no music” reputation, but it was not entirely absent from practice. When I arrived, there was a nice choice, as well: Give It Away by Red Hot Chili Peppers, TNT by AC/DC, and Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough by Michael Jackson. The offense came out early, at about 8:55 AM, and it coincided right with the beginning of TNT that gave an extra bit of hype for the fans.
- And while there was no music during drills, it did play during warmups. I’m not sure if this has been a regularity, but the players did seem to appreciate it. Zach Kerr in particular was grooving to the music being played.
- Phillip Lindsay got off to a great start with a nice pass from Flacco that would have gone for a long gain. Encouraging for those of you that want to see him more in the passing game.
- Drew Lock and Kevin Hogan both had long complete passes, respectively to Juwann Winfree and Emmanuel Sanders. Brett Rypien also fit in a tight slant to Troy Fumagalli.
- But there were plenty of times where the rookie quarterbacks showed they were rookies. Lock still needs to work on getting the ball off quicker and tightening up some throwing mechanics. Rypien’s arm strength is also not on the level of Flacco or Lock, and it showed when one of his long passes to Courtland Sutton stalled out, resulting in an easy interception for Alijah Holder.
- Lock did get a 1 minute and 10 second drill to himself, and he did quite well on it, he looked more comfortable in such a situation. He connected on three short passes to the sideline, and two larger gains over the middle, both to Moral Stephens. Unfortunately, the drill came up just short at about the 5 yard line.
- Tim Patrick had a nice grab of a slightly errant Rypien pass that was behind him. There hasn’t been much talk about Patrick, but from what I can sense it’s clear that he’s being considered a first stringer, and I’ll be very curious to see what his snap counts look like when the regular season gets going.
- Lastly, you probably already heard well about the Don Barclay/DeShawn Williams fight. From my vantage point, it was one of those heated competitions that just boiled over, with Barclay throwing the biggest punch that thankfully didn’t land. Fangio clearly did not tolerate it, and got in there forcefully to break it up.