Welcome back! We’ve survived the offseason. Pat yourself on your back. Football. Has. Returned.
Of course, we’ll be looking for everything. Now, keep in mind the team will only be practicing in shells meaning we can only learn so much. Not every question can be answered within the first day. But here are some of the most notable things I’ll be watching for, broken down by position.
Bruce Gradkowski will start camp on the PUP list. It sounds more of a cautious decision than one that indicates anything serious. Regardless, it opens up a fourth quarterback spot. Who will take it, Devin Gardner or Tyler Murphy? I can’t see both getting reps, there just aren’t enough to go around. My guess is on Gardner. He seemed to get reps there before Murphy did in OTAs. Will the reps be as a conventional QB or will we see some Wildcat concepts?
This opens up a better opportunity and maybe more reps for Landry Jones and Tajh Boyd. Jones will probably get to run with the second team. He has talent around him. No excuses.
DeAngelo Williams came into camp at 213 pounds, perhaps the lightest he’s been in a long time. Hoping to see some burst/explosion to his game though again, it’s tough to tell in practice, much less in a padless drill. Much easier to judge the passing game than the running.
If you want to call Dri Archer a running back, I want to see if he exclusively stays with them or bounces back-and-forth with the receivers, like last season. Let’s see how creative the team is with him and if there’s any brand new wrinkles in how he’s aligned. It’s minor but in the opening return drill, I want to see him catch the ball cleanly with his weight forward.
Ross Scheuerman brings nice size. He’s a total unknown to me and I want to see how he looks blocking and catching the ball.
Will Johnson was lined up all over in camp last season. Maybe there will be a repeat performance. Roosevelt Nix has to show he’s a capable lead blocking who can get low and explode on contact. Cameron Stingily is a hybrid runner/blocker but above all, has to show some speed. He’ll look good when defenders can’t hit. So expect a glowing report on him within the two days.
Matt Spaeth avoided the PUP so that’s a good sign for his elbow injury. Want to see Rob Blanchflower make some splash plays early on in camp. Don’t want to see him become a guy who just fades away. Need to see how Cameron Clear looks coming off the ball in a three-point stance and how he controls the point of attack in the run game.
Have to wonder the percentage of snaps Markus Wheaton gets day one.
It doesn’t mean a ton, Derek Moye ran ahead of Martavis Bryant to begin camp last year, but it’s nice to get a pecking order and who is in the top and bottom group.
C.J. Goodwin is a player I’m excited about and what to see make spectacular plays. Has a great vertical, should be able to win on jump balls.
I’ve talked about the position a lot. Mike Munchak repped stunt pick up a ton last year so let’s see how the young guys respond to that. With 14 lineman active, one of the new guys will get reps at two positions. That’ll be a nice start for them. My guess is that’ll be B.J. Finney at second-team center and third-team right guard. Prediction for how the offensive line will group.
1st Team: Beachum-Foster-Wallace-DeCastro-Gilbert
2nd Team: Villanueva-Hubbard-Finney-Dieffenbach-Van Dyk
3rd Team: Whimpey-Rahrig-Dismukes-Finney-Palmer
Hope to see guys like Clifton Geathers and Matt Conrath get work at both end spots. In OTAs, Conrath told me he was running at just left end. I figure Geathers will open up 2nd team right opposite of him.
L.T. Walton has tremendous hustle and I want to see it on full display.
Also hope to check out any subpackag groupings other than the starting combo of Cameron Heyward/Stephon Tuitt. Who else gets mixed in?
Order on the left side should go: Moats, Dupree, Chickillo.
Jones, Harrison, Jones on the right. Wish we could’ve seen how Shawn Lemon would fit in. For now, we won’t get that chance.
Want to see if Jones has any improved bend around the edge. How Bud Dupree takes on blocks in the run game. How much bigger – though I admit I’m bad at telling how a guy looks – Howard Jones is.
The toughest position to evaluate in practice are the OLBs. These guys can’t touch the QB. That has mess with a player’s mindset. Just can’t go full boar like in a game.
This group is pretty much figured out. Some of the things I do want to see, like Sean Spence’s positioning, is going to be too difficult to uncover in practice. Only other thought is seeing Jordan Zumwalt healthy, which I assume he is. He can’t hit yet and that’s the best trait he offers.
Man, I wish Senquez Golson could hit the ground running. Too bad, hope he isn’t out long. Doran Grant is the biggest benefactor and he should enter camp as the #4 CB. When William Gay is out of the lineup, who will play in the slot? Couldn’t give you a clear answer pre-camp. Is Antwon Blake going to get a chance? Or B.W. Webb? We’ll see and I’m excited to learn that.
We’re down to nine following Jordan Dangerfield’s release. Still have to think there will be an odd man out, the ninth guy getting scraps. Wonder who it will be. Alden Darby, Isaiah Lewis, Ian Wild seem to be at the bottom of the pool.
Always looking at that upback spot. Making sure Robert Golden hasn’t gotten switched out. That could be telling if he does.
I have in my notes Danny Smith considers an NFL hangtime to be at least 4.2 seconds. That’s the benchmark for Brad Wing and Jordan Berry.