Notes on the morning practice:
It pays to arrive early - the spots along the fence are mainly open and you can easily position yourself right in front of where the defense practices unit drills. As the day went one, the fan turnout seemed to grow and grow. I made sure I stood near the linebackers to get a clear view of guys like Merriman, Foley, Phillips, and Gbaja-Biamila.
AGB's size cannot be overstated...the man towers over some of the other linebackers on the roster. Merriman is clearly a fan favorite, and he gave the fans a treat by going 120% on all his drills. He even came over and gave the fans some 'high-fives'. Foley was also a favorite among those in attendance. I was one of the many who would yell out to Foley: "FO-LEY! Lets go baby!" He is truly a beast, easily the biggest linebacker in terms of pure bulk. Godfrey got plenty of love as well. He seems to really enjoy being out there and you can tell he loves his team and the game. He would frequently break out in dance moves. His size was also impressive - similar to Foley in terms of muscular bulk. Godfrey received plenty of shouts thanking him for returning for one more season.
Shaun Phillips was also impressive - he has probably the quickest first step of the linebacker crew. He seemed to have added a few pounds as well.
Luis Castillo received praise among the fans. He was in great shape and lined up at DT during the 7 on 9 drills. Castillo has great pass rush moves and can really work his hands to break out of blocks. Igor is another fan favorite and is impressive-looking just standing around. The power he plays with is jaw-dropping. It seems as though he has to tone it down a few notches during practice in order to keep his teammates safe.
Antonio Cromarite was the first guy out on the practice field, warming up a good ten minutes before anyone else. There were plenty of encouraging shouts for Antonio. He looks great at corner, and brings size to the secondary that simply wasn't there last season. He clearly has the athletic ability, and was really close to making some good plays. But he was definitely picked on by the QBs and was often times matched up against the big WR Kasim Osgood. He still has plenty to learn, but has the pure ability that cannot be coached.
Feeley did not look good in drills, he was picked off - which seems to be a trend. Whitehurst has a gun - the ball jumps out of his hand with great velocity. Rivers looked good, but at times made some poor decisions. However, he made some impressive throws and could deliver the ball where only the receiver could get it. He would throw it away when the pressure came, and since he was working against the first-team defense, the pressure came often. It seems as though the coaches have worked with Philip on his delivery because the ball was often released higher than I have seen Rivers throw it in the past. The side-arm motion is still there, but he is releasing the ball about 25 degrees higher than before.
LT did a little bit, and was impressive going just 75%. The coaches really limited the work he got, but he nonetheless worked in with the first team and looked sharp. Gates also looked great, but his work was also limited.
Jamal Williams did not participate in drills. Roman Oben was in a foot cast and while he was walking around without crutches, he did not participate in drills. Jordan lined up with the first team.
Donnie Edwards was absent from practice as far as I could tell. I couldn't find him anywhere.
Jammer was solid. His physical style of play was on display, and he got plenty of love from fans, especially from me. AJ Smith was within ear-shot, and on more than one occasion I yelled out to AJ: "Give Jammer his extension AJ! C'mon AJ - you're the man!"
AJ Smith seemed to be paying close attention to the UFAs, and to Jammer as well. It was apparent he was aware of the fans and who they cheered for. I imagine he likes to get a feel for what the fans are thinking. I used the opportunity to cheer AJ and to encourage him to re-sign Jammer. One of the fans near me called out "Can we get Ty Law, AJ?! Can I have a job? I'll do whatever!"
On offense, the guy who stood out the most to me was Malcom Floyd - the guy simply caught everything thrown his way. He has Randy Moss-type size, and made some impressive catches.
Keenan McCardell was also impressive, and seemed like the clear number one option in the passing game. Eric Parker looked good as well. He worked with the first team offense as well as in the return game on special teams. Sproles had a few good runs, but looked even smaller this year since it seemed the team as a whole has gotten bigger overall.
McNeil is massive. He acknowledged the fans cheering for him as he came out to the practice field. His long arms shoot out quickly, and he can really keep the defensive end at bay. He was with the second team.
Other guys who I noticed were Page and Massey...both guys are big - Chase Page being a D-Tackle type with thick arms and legs and Patrick Massey an extremely tall D-End with long arms. Page looked similar to Castillo in terms of size and Massey looked like no one else on the team.
Mruczkowski played some gaurd on offense and had some great blocks. He is clearly pushing to be a starter and played with the first team in Mike Goff's absence.
Cromarite worked in with Parker and Sproles fielding punts.
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