It was the first full day of training camp for the entire squad. Players are adjusting to their new teammates and in some cases their new roles. The coaching staff members, both new and old are doing the same.
As an observer it’s often hard to tell who is playing well and who isn’t. There are just so many variables to consider and accurately gauge.
First the players are in shirts and shorts. Without the threat of contact, can we get a true read?
Then there’s the question of effort. Who is going all out and who isn’t? Are some guys simply refining their craft, perfecting their technique and doing so at less than 100% with the ultimate goal being to achieve great technique at game speed when the lights go on in Denver on September 5?
A player like LaQuan Williams who almost always seems to stand out in practice yet he never sees the field during the season unless he’s in on special teams. Why is that? Does he not make the right pre-snap adjustments based upon what the defense presents? Is he not on the same page as Joe Flacco and therefore not considered trustworthy to the Ravens signal caller?
This isn’t meant to single out Williams, but instead just an example of how observers of the team take in what they see when compared to what the coaches and scouts see.
During practice yesterday, Art Jones (who by the way physically looks as good as ever) made a play during scrimmaging that inspired defensive line coach Clarence Brooks to enthusiastically applaud his potential star on the rise.
To observers, no one saw what he really did. But Brooks saw something that when projected to full pads at game speed conditions might result in a potential plus play.
At the end of the day, training camp and the succeeding preseason games are essentially building blocks. Yet to observers both professional and casual, what you see isn’t always what you get. Practices and practice games can be a mirage of sorts.
So when the coaches and scouts sit down to surgically cut the roster to 53 and another 8 on the practice squad, they will do so in a way that includes the players that they believe have proven to be the best to implement their plans for the regular season – not what the stat sheets might show during camp or in games that won’t impact a post season berth.
During these summer days in the NFL what you see isn’t always what you get.