To echo the famous words of one Forrest Gump:
“Watching Chris Canty is like a box of chocolates. You just never know what you’re going to get play-to-play.”
Alright, so maybe the quote didn’t go quite like that. But the point is Canty is maddeningly inconsistent. It’s ironic that former Raven great Michael McCrary was attending today’s session because he could teach Canty a thing or two about playing with a high motor.
On the snaps of Canty’s that I charted, I’d say that he was coasting on more than half of the plays, especially in running situations. Canty mostly operated from a three-point and four-point stance and he looked listless in his get-off at the line. When he was engaged by a double team, he barely made much of an attempt to break through the blocks. He played with little aggressiveness.
When Canty played with motivation, there was a noticeable difference. He fired off the ball and made more of an effort to use his hands to disengage the block. On one of the snaps in which he was purely rushing the passer, he used a nice swim move to loop around the left tackle and get pressure off the corner.
One of Canty’s lowest points came when Ricky Wagner knocked him to the ground on a pass block. It didn’t take much of a shove to get Canty to the ground.
For a man as big and physically gifted as Canty is, it’s really a mystery as to why he can’t seem to unleash his inner beast mode…
Conversely, Elvis Dumervil was Mr. Effort today in both running and passing situations. He was especially active as an outside cover LB and drew praise from one of the position coaches on his technique. Dumervil isn’t at his best when he has to turn his hips and run backward, but there is no questioning his willingness to improve.
The best way to describe John Simon is as a work in progress. You can see the physical nature and energy that the former Ohio State player brings on every snap. When he takes on blocks, he is very aggressive with his hands. On a play in which he had to take on tight end Crockett Gilmore, the second-year player used a strong rip move to disengage.
Simon looked more comfortable as a stand-up rusher than in coverage situations. He’s particularly good on the edge, and he was able to get past the left tackle on a couple of occasions.
In coverage, Simon is much better on shorter routes where he can use the sideline to his advantage. He has stiff hips and heavy feet. His lack of athleticism and lateral agility was exposed by fullback Shaun Chapas (more on him below) on a pull block in space.
However, at times he makes up for his lack of athleticism with his intelligence and timing. For instance, he was able to cut underneath a route that he ran better than the pass catcher, and nearly came away with the interception. He also perfectly timed two batted passes at the line.
It’s Simon’s hard work and ability to adapt to being a stand-up linebacker that will ultimately determine his fate.
Lorenzo Taliaferro: The big back from little Coastal Carolina continues to make his mark. He had a couple of nice runs, particularly bouncing off the left side of the line. Tailaferro does a nice job of sliding his feet to find the cutback lane. For a guy his size, he has deceptive speed. If he gets momentum moving forward, he will be tough to tackle. And he invites contact. There were a couple of plays in which he fought through contact to lean forward for more yards.
D.J. Roberts: The rookie backer showed up in goal-line drills. He may not always have the best technique (he tends to play too high out of his stance), but he is very aggressive and consistently battled today. In fact, there was a play in which Reggie Stephens drove Roberts backward, but the rookie was undeterred and finished the series strong. Given his compact frame and long arms, he looks like a player that can anchor against the run if he can continue to refine his technique and use of hands.
- Newly signed Will Hill worked as a member of the “vice” coverage teams during punt return drills. He looked good as an inside blocker, cutting off the crash player from getting past him.
- Fullback Shaun Chapas has been making some nice plays when given the opportunity. Today, he had a couple of key blocks in the open field and also caught a couple of passes.
- C.J. Mosley was impressive in his coverage technique. He showed great hips to cover slant routes, while also displaying the timing to break on the ball and knock it down. Moreover, his jam at the line was very disruptive.