Yesterday if you had to pick a winning position group from the first practice, it would likely have been the wide receivers. Both Josh Gordon and Travis Benjamin had very good first days of camp.
Today, the defensive backs stole the show.
It starts with Joe Haden. Perhaps he was inspired by the crowd calling for him to sign an extension as he took the field. Whatever the motivation, Haden put a on a clinic, especially when covering Josh Gordon.
In the early portion of practice the wide receivers went one on one with the defensive backs for all to see. What fans and coaches saw looked like Josh Gordon wearing a Joe Haden coat. In one rep Haden used his body to get inside position and made a fantastic play on the ball for an interception at the goal line. It didn’t stop there. Haden had several pass break-ups covering Gordon (and others as well) and a pick six later in an 11-on-11 drill, jumping a quick out route.
Haden wasn’t the only defensive back that had a good day. Chris Owens, (who we told you in this space yesterday had the best day of the other defenisve backs) started opposite Haden with the first unit today and had another good practice. Trevin Wade had a pick. Tashaun Gipson had a pick. On the day there were four or five interceptions in 11-on-11 drills. All three quarterbacks were victimized.
While the wide outs and defensive backs were going at it on one field, the linebackers were involved in a drill against the running backs and tight ends designed to make the defenders cover downfield. This is not a drill that favors the defenders. That said, these are circumstances that the defensive players will find themselves in. Touchdowns were the norm in this drill. L.J. Fort looked like the best coverage linebacker on the day. Craig Robertson and D’Qwell Jackson didn’t embarrass themselves covering Richardson and Dion Lewis out of the backfield. Barkevious Mingo and Jabaal Sheard as you might expect need more practice. Mingo did have a nice pass defensed in an 11 on 11 drill against the second team offense.
After practice, head coach Rob Chudzinski addressed the defense getting the better of the offense. “The past two days have been large installs for us. We were working a lot of third-down situations. This was a third-and-long day. We’ll just have to look at the tape and make the corrections off of it and move on.” Chudzinski continued, “I think the secondary made some really nice plays. They really broke well on the ball on a couple of them. Again, we will just have to look at the tape and see where we go from there on both sides of the ball.”
Of course during training camp when a defensive back has a good day, that means the quarterback didn’t. Weeden was certainly sharper yesterday. He sailed a few passes, especially quick outs to the sideline. Rob Chudzinski was asked whether he worries about the number of interceptions thrown by his quarterbacks in practice, “Not necessarily. It’s always something you have to go up and look at the tape. Sometimes the routes are off. Sometimes the protection is off. It can be a lot of different things, as well as just the quarterback is throwing interceptions. That’s why you always want to look at it, get in the meeting rooms, make the corrections and move forward.”
– It wasn’t all bad for the offense of course. Travis Benjamin made a nice move and beat Trevin Wade deep for a touchdown. Trent Richardson continued to flash more speed and make quick cuts.
– Shaun Lauvao started at right guard again today. Sheard was at the right outside linebacker. Other than Owens in place of Skrine it was pretty much the same.
– David Nelson dressed and participated in individual drills, but did not go in the team portions.
– Phil Taylor sat out again as did TE Kellen Davis.
– Josh Gordon was a full participant today despite his cramping issues yesterday.
– Offensive lineman Oniel Cousins has an ankle injury and left the field early.