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August 23, 2012

Tenacious D or O-Line struggles?




At Wednesday's practice two things were apparent; the defensive intensity set the tone for practice, and the offensive line struggled to hold their own.

Early on Derrick Brown went deep to Michael Hartvigson, Cody Bruns pulled in a couple of nice receptions, as did Kasen Williams, and Sankey and Callier showed why they are considered the top two running backs on the team. But the defense didn't put up with this for very long, quickly bringing the offense's successes to a halt.

Talia Crichton and Andrew Hudson started the momentum shift, blowing through the offensive line and clogging up holes. Josh Shirley then joined in by making an excellent read on a DiAndre Campbell sweep, containing and shutting down the play. Hudson and Shirley, along with Danny Shelton, terrorized on defense, and got to Cyler Miles multiple times in a row at one point. Other front liners like Sione Potoa'e, Pio Vatuvei, and Conner Cree got into the action as well, standing up the line and stuffing runs.

Later, Crichton once again made an impact in practice by sneaking up from behind Brown and blocking a throw of his, and soon after this Potoa'e pressured Jeff Lindquist into a poor throw by jamming up the pocket. All of this front line intensity was contagious, as the secondary looked inspired because of it.

Tre Watson played good coverage on Jaydon Mickens, and found himself in the right place to make the play for the majority of practice. Sean Parker also played well, despite having a couple of flags thrown on him. Parker was called for a penalty for holding Williams, and also had an unlucky pass interference called on him for getting his legs tangled with Bruns', tripping him up. For the most part these penalties weren't exactly a negative though, as they reflected the defensive backs' aggressiveness. Parker did have an interception too, picking a Brown overthrow that was intended for Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

A couple late offensive positives came out, as Travis Coons' strong leg connected on 5/6 field goal attempts. Practice ended with goal line scoring attempts, where Bruns and Seferian-Jenkins both reeled in end zone receptions too. But the major imprint in practice was made by the defense. Their front line was a constant nuisance all practice long, and aside from the penalties in the secondary, the defensive backs played well too.

With all the pressure that the defensive line was putting on the offense, or in other words with all of the pressure that the offensive line was letting get to the quarterback, it's hard to tell if praise should fall on the tenacious defense, or if criticism should fall on the struggling offensive line. This will be an issue to keep an eye on in practices to come, to see if the O line can match the intensity set forth by the D line.

Injuries:

Offense

-Kevin Smith had his gold jersey on, but continues to look healthier and healthier

-Shane Brostek wore a club on his right hand, but still practiced

-Deontae Cooper is still sidelined

-Ryan McDaniel still isn't 100 percent, but is practicing

-James Johnson was absent from practice

-Jaydon Mickens appeared to be bothered by something, leaving the field briefly. But he returned and continued to get reps in, so it looked as though there was no real issue.

-Knight Laird had on a right knee brace, and didn't wear pads to practice

Defense

-Evan Zeger had a gold jersey on

-Nate Fellner now has a boot on his left leg

-Tre Watson was wearing a bicep band potentially because of a past injury, but it didn't appear to bother him at all

-Hau'oli Jamora is still out

-Jamaal Kearse was sidelined with crutches

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