Jue is back and looks great out there. It was a real treat seeing him practicing because we need that competition at SS to heat up. I expect Jue to claim the starting job, with Hart a close backup and seeing plenty of the field himself. However, Jue has all the athleticism in the world and is extremely bright. He looks similar to Cromartie in build – both players have long limbs and plenty of bulk. Hart made some plays again, which has been a trend for him. He picked off Rivers near the endzone. Cromartie made some amazing one handed catches during DB drills. He also has excellent route running ability…when the DBs are running drills with eachother, Cromartie really stood out with his ability to juke the defender with little effort. He has amazing body control and is exactly the type of athlete you hope to draft in the top 10, let alone the top 20. McCree is solidified in his role at free safety, but there was little doubt this would be his role. Florence had a good practice and got his hands on the ball often. Jammer had a decent practice – he was taking some reps catching the ball on punt return which I expect is an exercise to improve his hands. However, while Cromartie is effortless in his ability to catch and handle the ball, Jammer makes it seem almost like a chore. Regardless, he provided excellent coverage and his physical play was evident during 7 on 7.
TE Manumaleuna has dropped some excess weight and has really slimed down. He is moving quicker and is in overall better shape. Manumaleuna will combine with Olivea, Hardwick, Dielman, and the rest of the O-line to provide a nasty attitude that should prove invaluable in the upcoming season, where teams will be looking to stop the run at all costs He is a punishing blocker and on consecutive plays got into a shoving match with LB Harris. While Manumaleuna is all but guaranteed a roster spot, the same cannot be said for Harris. Akbar Gbaja-Biamila was making more than enough plays to impress the team. He was consistently making tackles in the backfield and did an excellent job of getting off blocks and containing the runner. He provided pressure on the QB multiple times and had one of the best practices overall. I had a chance to speak with AGB at the fence before practice. I asked him if he thinks he could get about 5 or 6 sacks this year – he replied he’s looking for double digits. This is the attitude I like to hear. He said that it really didn’t work out in Oakland and the disgust he has for the Raiders is clearly evident in his tone. He was glad to be with the Chargers and I told him San Diego was glad to have him back. I mentioned that he was a perfect athlete for OLB in this scheme and he seemed to agree. His performance on the field went a long way to proving that he is going to be a valued member of the team and should be another pass rusher that Wade Philips will look to exploit.
DT Alvin Smith is a load, but then again, so is Ryan Bingham. McKinney is also competing, so it should be interesting to see which nose tackles make the team. I think Smith is working his way into the number 3 spot, so McKinney might be the odd man out. Bingham has added size and now looks to be very close to Jamal Williams in terms of bulk. Bingham is very strong and stout in the middle and has impressed me with his ability to hold his ground. He has the thickest build, especially in the legs. However Alvin Smith has great athleticism for a man of his size and seems to be the better pass rusher.
Vincent Jackson was incredible to put it simply. He was just dominant on the field. He is a huge man, and has great explosiveness in his breaks and has powerful leaping ability. He has really impressed me and seems to be working very hard to be ‘the guy.’ He isn’t running any complex routes or anything like that. That’s Parker and McCardell’s specialty. Jackson is a big red zone target and showed what he can do near the goal line. Just put the ball up there and let Vincent come down with it. He doesn’t drop the ball and really attacks it like basketball player goes after a rebound. I think he can do some great things for this offense, but I would also be interested in having him work at TE. I can only imagine what wonders Coach Chudzinski could do with Jackson after seeing the work he has done with guys like Antonio Gates, Shockey, and Winslow Jr. This could also allow us to carry an extra WR. Floyd seems to be playing himself onto the roster. He had another great practice.
Marcus McNeil was very impressive. The guy has such great feet that he is able to react to pass rushers very well. After the snap he can quickly position himself in front of the rusher. Marcus McNeil was a huge pick, both figuratively and literally. I had a chance to welcome Marcus to San Diego and he seemed excited to be here. I also was able to let Roman know that we need him to get back and he appreciated the support. Jordan may be working with the first team but Oben should be ready to take over in time for the season. And when Oben passes the torch, McNeil should also be ready.
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