Senior Bowl Practice Report – Wednesday 2X

From Mobile, Alabama

It was a glorious day here on the Gulf coast, with clear blue skies, a warming sun and chilly temperatures in the morning for the North squad’s third workout of Senior Bowl week.

We’ve combined our reports, starting with the A.M. session, followed by the P.M. practice. Here’s the skinny.

North/A.M. Practice

It would have to go down as one of the most unusual sites of the week. Monster OT Nate Solder (Colorado) was leading a sweep to the left, all 6-8 ¼, 319 pounds of him in full pads. Coming up to try to stop the run was CB Kendric Bruney (North Carolina), all 5-9, 181 pounds.

But hand it to Bruney, he did not bail out of his run support. He engaged and bit Solder in the ankles … no I’m kidding there, but it would have been a great scene. Solder put his hand on Bruney’s shoulder and the cornerback fell to the ground. Luckily, Solder did not fall on him, because given the nearly one-inch and 138-pound advantage they may have needed a backhoe to come on the field to dig the little man out.

“That’s football,” Bruney said after practice. “You can’t run away from stuff like that. It’s what makes the game fun.”

Bruney has certainly had his share of fun in the three practices so far. The diminutive defensive back has been spunky and competitive any time there has been a ball in the air. The way he gets after receivers and with his willingness to support the run at the line of scrimmage, Bruney is a spitting image of former Chiefs CB Kevin Ross.

LOOKING GOOD – TE Lee Smith (Marshall) is an impressive physical specimen at 6-6, 269 pounds. Smith can also move with quickness and he’s a terrific route runner. Plus, he’s got good hands and has shown that not only catching the ball, but in blocking. He went high to pull down a pass, making the catch with his arms outstretched above his shoulders without slowing down. That’s tough to do …

Among the WRs there’s a separation between Titus Young (Boise State), Niles Paul (Nebraska) and Vincent Brown (San Diego State) and the rest of the North group. Young and Brown had good mornings. Paul’s production dropped off a bit and he had a dropped pass. Brown does a very good job of keeping the ball away from his body and catching only with his hands …

RB Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State) is very willing to mix it up on pass protection. Unlike some of the backs who strike out and miss the pass rushing defender, Hunter engages them and doesn’t let go. Sometimes he gets overwhelmed since he’s just 5-7¼, 199 pounds …

ILB Greg Jones (Michigan State) has been one of the most active tacklers in the country for the last three seasons and sometimes he just can’t help himself in these practices, where there’s generally no tackling allowed. He came through on a running play and ended up popping the back and then stepping on him as they unpiled the bodies …

QB Ricky Stanzi (Iowa) was the best of the three quarterbacks on Wednesday morning, showing good movement in the pocket when facing pressure. Stanzi also threw a nice ball to Hunter that snuck past several defenders.

NOT LOOKING SO GOOD – a couple of Big 12 Conference safeties in Quinton Carter (Oklahoma) and Eric Hagg (Nebraska) are a little stiff in their physical movements compared to other defensive backs …

A couple of the DEs, specifically Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue) and Jeremy Beal (Oklahoma) were called on a couple of times to drop off the edge and into pass coverage. Kerrigan looked OK, while Beal appeared lost.

South/P.M. Practice

A beautiful afternoon with warmer temperatures than in the morning as the South squad went through a 90-minute session with the Buffalo Bills coaching staff in charge.

LOOKING GOOD – QB Greg McElroy (Alabama) had a nice afternoon throwing the ball, showing accuracy and doing some of that on the run. It would have to be his best practice of the week …

DL Pernell McPhee (Mississippi State) was not a big name on a lot of team’s draft boards before this week. But I’m going to bet he’s up there now. McPhee has shown a very good motor all week and on the pass rush Wednesday he was relentless. He’s a raw product with a big upside …

RB Derrick Locke (Kentucky) has been the best running back for the South side, showing a burst on several runs and some shiftiness in his moves …

The South’s No. 1 offensive line was LT James Carpenter (Alabama), LG Danny Watkins (Baylor), C Jake Kirkpatrick (TCU), RG Clint Boling (Georgia) and RT Lee Ziemba (Auburn) …

The linebackers worked on a lot of pass drops in the practice and Josh Bynes (Auburn) looked good and was able to move down the field covering a running back with nice speed …

The No 1 defense had Sam Acho (Texas) and Allen Bailey (Miami) at end, Phil Taylor (Baylor) and Jarvis Jenkins (Clemson) at tackle, with OLBs Von Miller (Texas A&M) and K.J. Wright (Mississippi State) at outside linebacker. Holding down the MLB spot was Kelvin Sheppard (LSU). At cornerback were Curtis Brown (Texas) and Shareece Wright (Southern Cal), with Marcus Gilchrist (Clemson) and DeAndre McDaniel (Clemson) …

Working as kick returners were Gilchrist, Locke, Brown, WR Jeremy Kerley (TCU) and RB Noel Devine (West Virginia) …

NOT LOOKING SO GOOD – WR Courtney Smith (South Alabama) is a local kid who struggled in Wednesday’s practice. Smith has the look of an NFL receiver at 6-4, 220 pounds. But his route running is shoddy and his hands are very inconsistent. Smith was added late and he’s shown that he really is not of the caliber of the other receivers on the team …

RB Anthony Allen (Georgia Tech) carries a lot of weight with 223 pounds on his nearly 6-0 frame. But Allen could not handle pass protection against blitzing linebackers. He was continually run over, first by Sheppard, then Wright and Chris White (Mississippi State) and Bynes all ran through him.

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