The afternoon session was short and sweet, as the team tried to avoid the sweltering heat. The team practiced in shells and overall, the contact was at a minimum.
Here are other key observations and notes from today’s afternoon session:
· Formations and Fronts: The defense brought the heat, and the offense tried to counter during 11-on-11 drills. Specifically, the defense loaded the box, sometimes with eight defenders up front, leaving corners on an island. The wideouts had to break open against single coverage.
First, the offense executed long developing vertical routes, and then they turned to the short game, running quick slants and curls. The quarterbacks released the short tosses quickly to defeat the blitz – off of one, two and three-step drops.
In addition, the backs were instrumental as pass catchers, releasing from the backfield or the slot. Tailbacks Cedric Peerman, Jalen Parmele and Matt Lawrence were the main targets. When the backs moved from the backfield, they usually ran the circle route to expose the inside linebacker blitz. There was one specific play in which backer Jameel McClain came untouched up the middle on an inside blitz, but the ball was quickly dumped off to a back running in the space vacated by McClain.
· Who Stood Out?
– Marcus Smith: During the team’s vertical passing drill, Smith was chided by a coach for slowing down while the ball was in the air.
– Justin Harper: Even though the corners ran at half-speed to allow the receivers to make the catch during the vertical drill, the second-year receiver ran a couple of smooth routes to gain initial separation. On one route in particular, Harper ran a biting double move in which he faked the in route and then turned sharply downfield. He then faced off against rookie Lardarius Webb in the end zone and was able to leap over the promising corner to snag the jump ball.
· Scouting the Rookies
o Cedric Peerman: Although the rookie from Virginia is short, he has a compact build and runs with good pad level. It is apparent that Peerman is not a dancer; he gets the ball, makes one cut and accelerates through the hole. He would have been a great fit in Denver’s one-cut running scheme when Mike Shanahan was the head coach. Today, Peerman showed off his pass catching skills and his patience. On a stretch run off the left side, Peerman continued to hug the line and stayed with his blockers before finally cutting through a gap off the left side. Peerman has also been impressive as a goal-line runner, displaying the ability to push the pile and lean forward to gain an extra yard or two.
· The UDFA Corner
o Instead of operating from a three-point stance as he has done so often during training camp, William VanDeSteeg rushed from a two-point stance.
o Dannell Ellerbe continued to show that he is more than just an in-the-box defender. In defending a screen pass, Ellerbe had the presence of mind to turn upfield in a hurry to chase down the ball carrier from behind.
Other Rookie Notes
– It was nice to see Paul Kruger use his hands to disengage from tackle Joe Reitz in a pass-rushing situation. On the play, Kruger was able to extend his arms to push Reitz backward, then used a rip move to get off the block and move through an inside gap.
– As a pass blocker, Michael Oher has a tendency to overextend. When facing VanDeSteeg he planted too far to the right and the tweener was able to find an inside lane. Fortunately for Oher, the left guard was in position to cut off VanDeSteeg’s path.
Photo by Kevin Moore