The play of the day was made by Julius Jones, who broke into the secondary on a sweep to the right and met Jordan Babineaux face to face. Jones lowered his shoulder and sent Babs flying backward, sprawled on the ground. Jones is not that big a guy but he certainly harnessed his power on that play.
Everyone seems to love the big hit. It's certainly a money play, but in the grand scheme of things, mostly eye-candy. What matters is not that Jones flattened Jordan Babineaux, it's that he successfully ran a sweep. For the past two seasons, Alexander's slow first gear made sweeps inadvisable and rare. Adding the sweep back to the playbook is another small, hard to measure contribution by Jones.
Tight end John Carlson. The second-round draft choice from Notre Dame did some good things, and some not-so-good things this morning.
In an early drill, where the tight end and tackle where blocking a defensive end and linebacker, Carlson was pushed into the running back by linebacker Lance Laury and then whiffed on an attempted block of defensive end Jason Babin - who got to Weaver before he could turn the corner.
I saw a lot of whiffs by Carlson at Notre Dame. That should be something he can practice out of. Being walked into a running back is a little more troublesome. That's about winning engagement and sustaining a block. Mike Holmgren ripped him for the errors, so we can hope Carlson understands he won't play until he's adequate in all the duties of a tight end.
PLAYS OF THE DAY
Offense: Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Trufant jammed wide receiver Courtney Taylor not once, but twice as he broke off the line. Not simply hands-on contact, but route-altering jabs. Taylor, however, took the double-licking and came back to catch a pass from Hasselbeck in the flat. It was even more significant because these are the types of plays the offense will need from Taylor while filling in as the third receiver until Deion Branch is fully recovered from offseason knee surgery.
This play is significant both because Taylor eventually fought off the jam, and because Taylor was physically able to eventually fight off the jam. Later, Taylor's hamstring again tightened up. As long as he's able to practice tomorrow, it doesn't really matter. The play doesn't indicate that Taylor's hamstrings are healthy, they clearly are not, but it does indicate he's functional even whilst debilitated.
In addition to his usual read-and-react plays against the run, Hill also came up with a couple of gems in pass coverage. On the best, Matt Hasselbeck was looking to go to Bobby Engram. But Hill's blanket coverage took the primary receiver out of the play, leaving Hasselbeck to dump the ball to fullback Leonard Weaver - and defensive coordinator John Marshall to shout his approval of Hill's effort.
Last season, Hill moved from clueless to able-to-recover. He didn't always make the right read, but was close enough, aware enough and quick enough to recover. That he simply maintained cover, disappearing his receiver, is another step is his development. Not as flashy as leveling Ryan Grant, forcing a fumble, but better football.
DT Brandon Mebane is an absolute handful during pass-rush drills and watching him go up against Mike Wahle is something to behold. Wahle is a very accomplished professional. Someone who is focused on technique and very earnest in his practice and he you can see him getting frustrated trying to block Mebane. It's very simple physics. Mebane is 6 feet 1, more than 300 pounds and that gives him some serious leverage.
Here's what Wahle had to say on Monday when asked about blocking Mebane.
"Getting underneath that guy is very difficult," Wahle said. "There has been a couple times this camp where I've had good hand placement on a pass or a run and then tried to throw him on the ground, like just smash him. His legs just keep moving, which is very, very rare for a guy his size. A lot of talent there for sure."
It's not just that Mebane is short, it's that he has a ridiculously low center of gravity. His anatomy, huge through the core, butt and thighs, is abnormal. He's like a cannonball with arms. Throughout the league, guards are getting taller. Last season, Mebane routinely stood up and stifled opposing guards and centers. The next step is to stand up and then shed opposing linemen, so that he's not simply a run stuffer, but a run stuffer that can rush the passer and stuff the rusher.