Training Camp Notes: Inside the Trenches
Yesterday’s practice got the hit parade started. Today’s practice ratcheted up the physicality even more.
The hardest shots came on the back end, as the DBs were keyed up to tackle anybody that came in their strike zone. The receivers and tight ends had to make contested catches and hold onto the ball through some jarring tackles. The backs were also targets. But they also dished out their own punishment when they tried to break free from tackle attempts to gain extra yards.
My focus was in the trenches, where the defensive linemen made their presence felt and heard. In the case of Timmy Jernigan, he was definitely heard.
Jernigan was yapping at the offense during running drills and 11-on-11 action. His energy is infectious and he plays with swagger. In terms of activity, the second-year defensive end showed his ability on one play in which he shed a blocker with one arm and bear-hugged a back with the other arm. Jernigan chucked the RB backward to end the play. Overall, it looked like Jernigan was used more to occupy two blockers, as he often eased up on his rush in passing situations.
His tag-team partner, Brandon Williams, had a three-play sequence that perfectly illustrates his dominance.
On the first play, Williams wheeled off of his man in a one-on-one situation and chased Joe Flacco out of the pocket. Williams had Flacco dead to rights, but the QB showed off his athleticism to cut around him and scramble up the field. (Williams probably pumped his breaks a bit since it was practice.)
On the next play, against the run, the large nose guard was able to shed a block with a powerful rip move and stuff the RB in the backfield.
Two plays later, Williams collapsed the pocket again and gobbled up the RB who was trying to find daylight up the gut.
The massive rookie looks more like a power forward than a defensive linemen. For checking in at roughly 320 pounds, he has a lean build. It’s amazing to think he can easily add another 20 pounds and the added weight wouldn’t hamper his explosiveness.
During running drills, Davis’ power and speed was on display. He was able to consistently surge into the backfield, flying off the ball with a quick first step. Davis also overpowered John Urschel on a play in which he used one arm to shed the block and charge through the gap.
In 11-on-11 situations, the rookie simply drove his man back with ease when he was locked up 1-on-1. He mixed up the power game with an agile move to bend his body and split a double team.
However, as the practice wore on, Davis seemed to wear out a bit. Ryan Jensen was able to get the best of him a couple of times, once turning Davis and putting him on his back. Jensen also had success moving Davis laterally when got too high in his stance.
All in all, Davis’ flashed the ability to dominate in the running game, and he’ll only improve as he learns to use his hands and play with better leverage.
- Another rookie that looked good today was Javorius “Buck” Allen. The tailback showed acceleration turning the corner on outside running plays. He was also effective in the open field as a receiver. His best play was a catch and run down the right sideline. Allen started wide as a receiver, then shifted in an offset position next to the QB in the backfield. On the snap, Allen leaked out on a coordinated dump-off, caught the ball in stride, and gained a large chunk of yards.
- Undrafted rookie OLB Brennen Beyer and second-year OLB Zach Thompson showed up against the run by defeating blocks and throwing their bodies into the pile. Thompson in particular was physical and stout, and showed the ability to play on the line despite being undersized.
- Michael Campanaro had a sweet TD grab along the sideline over the outstretched hand of Will Hill. The second-year wideout was able to drag his feet to stay in bounds.
- Safety Kendrick Lewis moved around from his traditional centerfielder role, picking up backs and tight ends who leaked out on pass routes. He also had a few snaps in the slot.
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