Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Observations of a RailBird Part II

Tuesday, August 6, 2013 by Ted Verges

               Now that’s the way it should be!  Today’s practice was crisp, sharp, and impressive. Things moved along very nicely, the organization was good, there wasn’t much standing around, the guys looked like they had improved their skills, and the ball very seldom hit the ground.  A few years ago that’s the way it was all the time. Not so last year when things dragged because of so much time spent on special teams.  This year they do special teams assignment stuff 20 minutes before practice starts. I wonder how McCarthy will judge the practice?

               Once again, I positioned myself close to where the offensive line does its drill work, and I concentrated my attention on that group.  Bakhtiari was at left tackle and Newhouse at right tackle.  Bakhtiari had a good practice. He showed no signs of being nervous and his skill level was very good. In the one on one pass blocking drill, I think he was four and one; that included Matthews and Jolly in his victories. His loss was against Moses. His win against Matthews earned him a pat on the butt from his coach. That play also earned Matthews a few comments from Kevin Greene.

               The line coaches had their guys working on all sorts of run blocking situations such as a double team, picking up a late blitzer, zone blocking, drive blocking, and disengaging from a lineman to get to the second level.  Bakhtiari was very good in all those drills. He is quite athletic with good footwork.  He might be a little small and could use some weight in his midsection, but he can play.

               Newhouse looked better than what I saw a week ago.  He is a big man and tends to engulf his defender. He doesn’t have the quickest feet of the group but, somehow, gets the job done.  I think EDS only lost one snap on the pass blocking drill. I like how he compliments and encourages the young guys.  Once again, Garth Gerhart caught my attention with his work at both guard and center.  He is fundamentally sound. He might be a little undersized but he does things well. He might be a practice squad candidate. Another guy who had a good day is Greg VanRoten who works at center and both guards. He has good technique and decent size.  It was interesting to watch Don Barclay today.  He kept trying to jump the line to get in some extra reps! He’s kind of physical and nobody will accuse him of being a finesse player!

               I know I tend to focus too much on line play, but there were other things going on today!  The linebackers and tight ends had a form tackling drill where they had to tackle the ball carrier to some bags.  Would you believe that Finley had the best form tackle of that drill! Lacy was again featured in the red zone running drill. He’s a load when he sticks his nose in there.  Starks scored a TD on a nice run and cut off left tackle behind Bakhtiari.  They were running Franklin on some red zone running plays. He’s really quick. The defenders seldom get a solid hit on him.  He had a jaw dropping punt return today.  Bostick seemed to get a lot of reps at tight end today and did well.  I’ve observed two practices so far. Boykin has made great plays both times. Today he made a great, diving catch along the right sideline on a fly pattern.  He’s very consistent; whereas, Ross has talent but he drops the ball too often. It was fun to watch James Jones on a one on one, receiver v. defensive back, drill.  Jones was to go against James Nixon. Jones started out running a post and Nixon jumped it. Jones stopped and turned it into a hook pattern completion and Nixon went flying by.  Jones just stood there and gave Nixon a big smile! Kind of fun to see.

               As far as the defense goes, B.J. had some great plays.  At times, that guy is so quick you can’t believe it. Again today, he made a couple of pass rush spin moves that you wouldn’t think possible from a man that size. Another time he shot the inside gap in a very impressive manner.  I wonder if he got the spin move from Jolly because he uses it also. Another guy I like to watch up close is defensive lineman Mike Daniels.  He plays low and he’s real quick, two things any defensive line coach loves.  He tends to disrupt things. Also, I was very pleased today to see Nick Perry use a counter pass rush move.  It started as a power rush, but then Perry used the Reggie White “hump” move and went inside the blocker.  Well done, Nick Perry.

               I thought today we looked like a ball club. Every thing was done quicker than a week ago. The guys seem to be improving their skills.  Talent is beginning to show. I got to sit next to another railbird who knew his stuff. In addition to all that, it was a beautiful, comfortable morning.  Where else would you rather be?

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