Senior Bowl Practice Report – Thursday 2X


From Mobile, Alabama

Thursday was the final day for full practice sessions for both the North and South teams as they head towards Saturday’s Senior Bowl.

But the Thursday work was a lot more low-key than what was seen in the previous three days. The players were in shorts without shoulder pads. South coach Chan Gailey cut his practice to just about 65 minutes, while North coach Marvin Lewis tried to dial down the intensity of his team’s work.

There was a bit more individual coaching during the sessions like the picture above. On the left, that’s former Chiefs assistant coach and now Bills offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris working with Baylor’s Danny Watkins on snapping the ball. Watkins has never played center before and this was his first taste of firing the ball between his legs.

It was pretty typical Senior Bowl moment for the coaching staffs that are coaching and not scouting, and the players. The coaches do everything they can in a very short time period to not only create a cohesive team, but show the players ways they can make themselves more valuable to NFL teams.

Here are some observations from the Thursday morning and afternoon sessions.

NORTH/THURSDAY A.M.

The sun was shining brightly on the Gulf coast, but there was a chilly wind blowing in from the north as Lewis put his team through an 80-minute workout. At one point, the Bengals head coach had to pull DE/LB Jeremy Beal (Oklahoma) aside and tell him to lower the intensity of his pass rush as the offense was going through a situational period.

The star of the practice was CB Kendric Bruney (North Carolina). He picked off a pair of passes, including one in the end zone where he made a diving catch and immediately popped up and ran it out to about the 25 or 30-yard line.

LOOKING GOOD (BESIDES BRUNEY) – RB DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma) had his best practice of the week and really looked catching the football. It wasn’t just short dump offs and screens where Murray got it done, but he ran a couple down the field routes where he not only got open, but made difficult catches …

LB Casey Matthews (Oregon) grabbed an interception off a pass from QB Ricky Stanzi (Iowa) in the end zone. Matthews did a good job of disguising his coverage and put himself in a spot where Stanzi did not expect him to be standing …

Stanzi came back and threw a pretty pass in the corner of the end zone to WR Titus Young (Boise State), who did a great job of concentrating on the catch and getting both of his feet down in the end zone …

QB Jake Locker had a so-so morning throwing the football, but he showed his athleticism on one play when he was chased out of the pocket and took off running downfield. He ran for 25 yards before the defense was able to catch up to him and he stepped out of bounds.

NOT LOOKING SO GOOD – P Alex Henery (Nebraska) had an extended kicking session in this practice and he struggled with consistency. Henery did not get much hang-time on his punts, and several were line drives that made covering the punts problematic …

In the two-minute offense, Locker had his troubles throwing the ball. He made a poor throw that was short and skipped to a covered receiver and then came back on the next play and overthrew Young by a good 20 yards …

Big OT Jake Solder (Colorado) had a tough morning. Considered among the highest rated offensive linemen in the country for this year’s draft, Solder allowed too much penetration to a pass rushing Jeremy Beal (Oklahoma), who knocked the ball down. On the next play, Solder went early and was called for a false start …

MISC. STUFF – working as kick returners were Young, WR Dwayne Harris (East Carolina), RB Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State) and WR Niles Paul (Nebraska) …

Punt returns were Young, Harris and S Da’Norris Searcy (North Carolina) …

Here’s how the first defensive unit lined up: DEs Cameron Jordan (California) and Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue); DTs Christian Ballard (Iowa) and Ian Williams (Notre Dame); OLBs Mason Foster (Washington) and Matthews with Greg Jones (Michigan State) at middle linebacker. On the corners were Bruney and Richard Sherman (Stanford), with Searcy and Jalil Brown (Colorado).

SOUTH/THURSDAY P.M.

LOOKING GOOD – For the second day in a row, QB Greg McElroy (Alabama) was doing a good job in finding open receivers with tight passes that arrived on time. He found WR Greg Salas (Hawaii) open in the end zone, but Salas couldn’t hold on to the ball …

Rodney Hudson (Florida State) continued to do a good job Thursday afternoon as he rotated among three different positions on the offensive line. He was at left guard with the No. 1 line, moved over to right guard later and then worked as center. Hudson handled himself well at all three spots…

P Chas Henry (Florida) and K Josh Jasper (LSU) both did a good job kicking the ball and showed more consistency than the South kickers. It’s doubtful either one will be drafted, but expect that both of them will get training camp looks …

NOT LOOKING SO GOOD – OL Marcus Gilbert (Florida) suffered a hyperextension of his right big toe earlier in the week and he did not practice on Thursday. Whether he plays on Saturday or not will be decided before the game …

Mighty-mite RB Noel Devine (West Virginia) was not running with the same explosion and speed after four days of practicing. Not many of his teammates were either, but for a guy trying to make it at 5-7, 160 pounds, it’s important that he not look worn out …

The teams will have a walkthrough practice on Friday that will bring an end to their practice time in Mobile. After that, all that will be left is playing the game on Saturday afternoon.


One Response to “Senior Bowl Practice Report – Thursday 2X”

  • January 27, 2011  - Ric says:

    Just a quick correction:
    It’s Nate Solder, not Jake.

    Other than that, thanks for the observations. Great to get a report from someone first-hand.




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