Camp Report - Thursday
Well it was a beautiful afternoon in Ashburn today, definitely the most tolerable weather day to date. It was 80 degrees, sunny, and there was a light breeze to keep you cool. The huge crowds that have become the norm were there again today. There were 17 busloads of children totaling almost 1000 people, further driving up the attendance numbers.
The first unit I had opportunity to watch today was the special teams. What a difference a day makes. John Hall was much better today, both in accuracy and distance. He was putting 35-yarders over the goalposts and into the forest. Great to see since he's easily the most likable kicker in the league. Not only does he weigh in at 240 pounds, but he also wears a burgundy jersey rather than a white one. (All of the players wear white if they're on offense, and burgundy if they're on defense)
Ola Kimrin doesn't have a prayer of beating Hall out of a job, but he sure kicks the ball well. He can certainly match Hall in length, but he is definitely not as consistent. Still, one day we'll see this guy on a permanent NFL roster.
I know I may have said it before, but it is so noticeable that I'll say it again. Wow, what a difference a year makes. These practices are so well organized that they are not even comparable to the Spurrier regime's. There is such an air of professionalism out there that you'd have to be a fool to not notice. At the end of every practice segment, nobody says anything to the players… nobody directs anyone… a whistle goes… and every player moves to whatever the next drill is. There's no waiting around, there's no lollygagging… players stop the present drill and often run to the next one. The crispness is unmistakable, and that has to translate into better things for this team.
7 on 7 drills were not all that remarkable. There were some good plays, and some bad ones. Tim Hasselbeck and Gibran Hamdan both continue to throw the ball well. It is a real camp 'battle' and both seem to know that they will only make this team with a good camp. One interesting thing that I noticed in the 7 on 7 drills was that the snap counts were very long. By design, they seemed to be holding the offensive line and getting these Dirtbags to overcome the false start penalties that have plagued this franchise for quite some time. As an observation, not a single flag was thrown by the referees.
The next drill I watched pitted wide receivers head-to-head with a single defensive back. There were some great plays, mostly by the defense. The defensive backs were lined up directly in front of me and I cannot explain how freakishly large Sean Taylor really is. Not only is he big but he made easily the two best defensive plays. To watch a 240 pounder close on a wide receiver with the speed of a cornerback is absolutely phenomenal.
While this drill was going on, the offensive line stood for probably 15 minutes just being instructed by Joe Bugel. Not all of the offensive linemen were being mentored, but the 5 starters (Jansen, Thomas, Friedman, Dockery and Samuels) along with Brandon Winey and Cory Raimer were there. Notably, not a single one of them ever took their eyes off of Bugel and were obviously giving their undivided attention. Joe Bugel just never stops coaching out there.
11-on-11 drills were next. Interestingly, the second and third stringers ran plays for nearly 10 full minutes before the starters stepped in. While this was going on, Patrick Ramsey and Mark Brunell were playing around and having a good time. If there is any animosity there, I am sorry but I just don't see it. In fact, the two looked very friendly.
The two most impressive non-starters were John Simon and Scott Cloman. Cloman continues to impress, and if Jacobs is going to continue to watch from the sidelines, Cloman will once again be the most difficult cut to make. He easily has earned a spot on at least the practice squad over the first week of camp. Simon has a definite zip in his step and knows that he is a long-shot to make this team.
When the starters began running 11-on-11, the star performer was once again Laveranues Coles. This guy is just top-drawer. He looked awesome again today and if his toe is a problem, it is certainly not showing. He beat Fred Smoot pretty badly with an all-speed move, Smoot just never caught back up.
Also of note, while Ramsey and Brunell were still not incredibly sharp, Patrick was definitely better. While some of his throws continue to be short, that gun-slinger arm is coming around more and more. Brunell on the other hand continues to over-throw his receivers. Truthfully, both Hasselbeck and Hamden are playing as well as the two incumbent starters.
There were numerous people not in pads today -- Ladell Betts, Taylor Jacobs, Clinton Portis, Cliff Russell, and Rufus Bown to name some of the more 'mentionables'.
Hopefully, tomorrow will afford us the same weather. Today was easily the nicest day at training camp in the last two years. Maybe we'll see you there!
This article was released on 2004-08-05.
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