Tomorrow I'll be talking about developing story lines from training camp on the Field Gulls podcast.
LB D.D. Lewis made a great play in coverage, breaking up a pass intended for FB David Kirtman, who was coming out of the backfield. Lewis also was part of a big collision involving RB Julius Jones.
Lewis is attempting to fill the Kevin Bentely seen and not heard 4th string linebacker spot. Lewis is 29, a good age for a quick, rangy player. He's put on a little weight since last I saw him. Lewis is the best backup linebacker at coverage, especially with Will Herring indefinitely sidelined, and should be able to man the weakside ably should Leroy Hill miss time.
DT Larry Tripplett got penetration on a couple of plays, including the one that ended with Jones colliding with Lewis. The competition for the No. 5 defensive tackle is one of the hot spots on the roster with Tripplett, Howard Green and Marcus Tubbs part of that mix.
I always saw Triplett as redundant. His quick, disruptive skills are akin to Craig Terrill and both are feast or famine against the run. If you assume Triplett and Terrill are 3 techs, then should Triplett make the roster, he'd be slotted behind Rocky Bernard, Terrill, occasionally Lawrence Jackson and possibly Marcus Tubbs. Seems like a longshot.
The offensive line had a few problems on successive plays, with Julian Peterson getting a sack of #8 if sacks were allowed, then Josh Wilson getting to the QB undeterred on a corner blitz. Wilson did the same thing on the next play and almost got there, slipping around Carlson.
Briefly on Josh Wilson blitzing: Wilson is not fast. Well he is, but he's not that fast. If anyone remember his touchdown return from last season, Wilson was very quickly to the sideline and around the first wave of the cover team, but to get into the endzone he had to dart around and cut back across the field. See, Wilson is incredibly quick, but his speed tops out pretty quick too. But incredibly quick is incredibly valuable, much more so than incredibly fast.
Wilson is not powerful, but he is strong. Against a lineman, he's toast. Against a back or tight end, he's got a shot.
Take those two skills together, fantastic quickness and good strength, and you have a very disruptive corner blitz that's more likely to disrupt than convert a sack. The nice thing, too, is that Wilson's quickness allows him to feign blitz and still recover into a sound short zone.
On a running play in the same sequence, Darryl Tapp completely stonewalled Mo Morris with a big hit. On the next play, Baraka Atkins ran down Morris in the backfield.
Not what you want to hear about Morris, who has a good first gear, good, but suspect vision. Great news to hear about Atkins. Any able defensive end in the NFL should be able to stonewall Morris, but for a guy like Atkins, who is toolsy, raw and played last season kind of lost, to chase down a rusher, a quick rusher, indicates increasing confidence (in his decision making) and better lines to the ball carrier.
PLAY OF THE DAY
Red Bryant. There were many candidates, but a strong endorsement from veteran guard Mike Wahle gave the honor to the rookie defensive tackle.
"Red made a bunch of plays today," Wahle said. "He really showed up in practice and was consistently making plays on us."
Among those plays was Bryant darting through a gap to get fullback Leonard Weaver in the backfield and using disruptive penetration into the assigned running lane that forced Duckett to bounce a run outside.
The coaches continue to take the "he's got a lot of work to do" tact with Bryant. But the fourth-round draft choice has been at his best in the full-contact drills.
"Red has some power to him, he's got some quicks," Wahle said. "He's somebody we definitely have to account for."
Bryant does have a lot of work to do. Predictably, the very talented Bryant makes a few head-turning plays a practice, but it's all those plays in between that separate his current ability from his potential. The best case scenario is inverted from the option control, weirdly old school tactics of Coach Fran and dedicated to a modern, single gap 4-3, Bryant evolves quickly, showing rapid improvement in skill and effort.
The chances of that are slim. The chances that Bryant succeeds in being a useful, sometimes spectacular player this season, and a very good to great player next season are damn good. Damn good.