AFC South: Todd Bauman
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It was billed as a scrimmage. A somewhat clumsy scoring system was in place, but it wasn't well translated by the scorekeeper who was controlling the JumbroTron.
It's hard to declare a winner in a glorified practice anyway, which is what unfolded at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium in front of 14,112 fans who took advantage of a free night.
Some highlights, lowlights and developments from the AFC South Blog's final training camp night with the Jags:
- Line judge Tom Symonette talked with offensive tackle Jordan Black after one series about how he was coming close to drawing a holding call near the end of an early period, saying he could tell Black was doing it more as he got tired.
- At the end of a 2:00 drill period, on third-and-goal from the 1-yard line, David Garrard pitched to Maurice Jones-Drew who probably would have been taken down by a defender if things were live. MJD threw a wobbler to the right side of the end zone, and Mike Walker made a great play to go up and take it away from Reggie Nelson.
- Rookie receiver Jarett Dillard went up to pull in a 25-tard gain to convert a third-and-11 from Garrard. It's the sort of catch Dillard's failed to make on a consistent basis in the last several days.
- Defensive back Brian Williams put a shoulder down and crushed Todd Peterson after a mid-range reception. It was called incomplete, but the replay on the stadium scoreboard suggested he'd gathered the ball and taken a step. I asked Symonette about it and he said we'd "have to take it to replay." It was the sort of hit a lot of coaches wouldn't have been happy with in this setting, but that the Jaguars seem not to mind while working to instill their physical mentality.
- Garrard looked for Troy Williamson in the back middle of the end zone from maybe 20 yards out and was picked by rookie corner Derek Cox. Garrard said he'd like to have the throw back, but it was a situation where if the team had game planned it probably would have looked to a different route.
- Kicker Josh Scobee was impressive again, nailing all five field goal attempts from 35 to 52 yards all with quite a bit of room to spare. I was wondering if he's at a point where he should start dialing it down a little, a 27-year old maybe saving a little to help his chances as a 37-year old. Or is it good that he makes plenty of long kicks with eight or 10 yards to spare? There was a practice pause right after the field goal period, and since Jack Del Rio walked by right as I was thinking it, I asked him. He kind of shook his head and laughed, but then told me about how things have really clicked in mentally for Scobee.
- Walker was hurt somewhere along the way, but Del Rio said afterward that a lower leg X-ray was negative and the team was optimistic it wouldn't be a big cause for concern.
- Backup quarterback Todd Bouman threw a nice TD to tight end Greg Estandia over Gerald Alexander in the back left corner of the end zone. Not long later, Bauman was picked off by Scott Starks, who wrestled a pass away from Tiquan Underwood.
- Tyron Brackenridge pulled in a pick of third string quarterback Paul Smith, who's not looked good while I've been here. The throw was a bit behind Clarence Denmark and defensive back Kennard Cox jostled him as it was arriving. It would have gone for a pick-six if officials didn't whistle a stop to the return.
- In the final period, the offense got the ball at its own 35-yard line with 58 seconds on the clock. They got across the 50 in two plays, but the drive died as Garrard threw a terrible ball that Kennard Cox picked easily in front of Williamson. Wasn't much of a finish to the night.
- Two-minute drill receiving totals provided by the team: Underwood 2-26, 1 TD, Dillard 1-25, Alvin Pearman 1-1, Estandia 1-11, Rashard Jennings 1-15, Zach Miller 2-28.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Oklahoma drill is a great thing for the Jaguars.
It creates buzz and anticipation. It's become a tradition. It's something people won't likely see in any similar setting. There are full-speed collisions, popping pads, hoots from the players and fans alike.
That's why practice Wednesday night drew nearly 2,500 people.
But I must admit, for the hype that's built up from a couple of years of hearing about it, it was a bit underwhelming. It wasn't like the scene I was told about when Marcellus Wiley tossed a handful of candy at Mike Williams, then got clobbered by the giant offensive tackle after the stunt.
There were as many draws as wins and it's hard to know for sure what you saw in a very fast couple of seconds, so I'll send you elsewhere to more expert eyes for any sort of scorecard.
Julius Williams toppled Tony Pashos in one crowd-pleaser and linebacker Tim Shaw twice created major thumps against Zach Miller, but I felt like Miller did well enough to allow the running back to get somewhere.
It's very cool that Jack Del Rio does it -- fans, players, staff and media all enjoy it.
But there was plenty more to see as well, so here are some things that struck me:
- In a nine-on-seven run period, Vince Manuwai and Maurice Williams were rotating at left guard while Uche Nwaneri manned right guard.
- In a blitz pickup drill, Greg Jones did just that -- he picked up Johnny Williams off ground, then tossed him aside. Williams then tied his shoe.
- Mike Walker looks great and seemed to be the target of the first pass of every team period. Looks solid, shifty, and consistent. The first pass he caught was a touchdown from 21-yards out on which David Garrard got good protection.
- Derek Landri knocked a ball out of Todd Bauman's hand, something that shouldn't be able to happen in a practice.
- Garrard hit Torry Holt at the right sideline near the pylon and he got in, beating Rashean Mathis. Later, during a special-teams period, I watched Holt play catch with a coach, watching the ball in to his hands from about eight yards away at a variety of angles with a wide array of loft or lack thereof.
- In seven-on-sevens, when a quarterback should be close to perfect working against no pass rush, Garrard had one 1-for-3 stretch -- lucky that Mathis didn't pick a pass for Jarett Dillard and throwing a ball away when he could find nothing. A throw away is generally a good thing, but not something that should happen often in that context. Maybe somebody botched a route?
- Garrard saw Nate Hughes pull away from Kennard Cox and Mesphin Forrester, and delivered a bomb for a 60-yard touchdown. When I visited organized team activities, I didn't think Garrard was throwing well deep to the sidelines. This made for twice on the day he had a guy break open and put the ball where he had to, well down the field.
|Bill Baptist/Getty Images|
|A healthy Chris Brown could be a big plus for Houston.|
Training camp site: Houston, Texas
Campfires: Weakside linebacker appears to be the biggest battle for a starting spot. Xavier Adibi has bulked up in an effort to become more rugged and withstand the 16-game pounding. Zach Diles appears to be an underdog here, as does veteran Cato June, who signed up after spending time in Indianapolis and Tampa Bay.
Finding a back to complement Steve Slaton is a big priority, but the Texans didn't spend much to increase their options. A healthy Chris Brown could do well in the role, but Houston is living on the edge if it's counting on 16 games from him. Undrafted rookies Jeremiah Johnson and Arian Foster are in the mix along with Ryan Moats and Clifton Dawson
Camp will be a downer if: Anything bad happens to Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson or Slaton. This is an offensive team keyed around that trio, and the loss of any of them for any extended time will be a huge setback.
Schaub's been labeled as injury prone, but it's really been more about being unlucky. It's not as if other quarterbacks would have played through some of the things he's faced. Still, Gary Kubiak's talked about how players can learn how to stay on the field, and he needs his signal-caller to do that.
Camp will be a success if: A defensive identity develops under new coordinator Frank Bush, who's pledged to be more aggressive.
The Texans need some preseason success on both sides of the ball to carry into the regular season, because another shaky start will be cause for concern based on the team's history. If Houston is to plot a course to its first playoff berth, it needs to avoid a poor start.
Second time around: Slaton was a revelation as a rookie, and while there is uncertainty about who else will get carries, the line should be better. It's the second year for the group under Alex Gibbs running his scheme, which should mean better and more consistent play.
Additionally, not only does the unit have Gibbs and John Benton as coaching resources, but can look to assistant Bruce Matthews, the Hall of Famer who's now part of the staff.
Training camp site: Terre Haute, Ind.
|Donald Miralle/Getty Images|
|Peyton Manning's receiving corps will be without Marvin Harrison this year.|
icamp, with Hall not generating much buzz.
Returning defensive tackles Keyunta Dawson, Eric Foster, Raheem Brock (an end on early downs) and Antonio Johnson will be fighting for roles at a position that welcomed back Ed Johnson and has two young, thick additions from the draft in Fili Moala and Terrance Taylor. Getting bigger inside while maintaining athleticism was a priority for the Colts.
The plan at linebacker is for Clint Session to play on the weakside and Philip Wheeler to replace him on the strongside. But guys with starting experience like Freddy Keiaho and Tyjuan Hagler will be looking to take the team away from that blueprint.
Camp will be a downer if: Left guard Ryan Lilja, perhaps the team's best run blocker, can't make it back after the knee injury that cost him all of 2008. Trouble on the return path for cornerback Marlin Jackson (knee) would also be a bad thing.
With those injuries, the two surgeries on Manning's knee, a dinged Joseph Addai and a bunch of additional problems for the offensive line, the Colts got to show that they could survive. It's not anything they want to be in position to prove again.
Camp will be a success if: New head coach Jim Caldwell sets an early tone that gives the team no room for doubt about the transfer of power from his mentor, Tony Dungy. The players also must take to the thinking of new defensive coordinator Larry Coyer (a bit more aggressive) and new, fiery special teams coach Ray Rychleski.
It also would be great if Manning develops increased rapport with Anthony Gonzalez, who's graduated to No. 2 receiver with Marvin Harrison gone. Manning also needs to gain a real feel for the guy who wins the battle for No. 3 as well as the young tight ends, Jacob Tamme and Tom Santi.
Off the record: Even with a new coach and changes on his staff, it's unlikely there will be any different emphasis on preseason results. Indianapolis is 3-15 in the preseason over the last four years and 51-13 in the regular seasons that followed.
The Colts have a good feel for how to get ready and don't have to worry about building fan enthusiasm with preseason wins. Everyone knows to look at smaller things early in the game to gauge the team's readiness.