Here’s a few notes from the evening practice at the VMAC from your substitute football writer….
Obviously the big news was Deion Branch being absent from practice. The official word is a sore left knee and that is basically precautionary.
That’s the same knee Branch had ACL surgery on two seasons ago and some clean-up on in April. At this point with that much work done, the knee is going to get sore at times and four straight days will do that. Having him miss a practice every few days is hardly anything to be alarmed about.
No Walter Jones, no Trufant, or Billy McMullen (does it really matter?) for the second practice either.
Since today was my first day of watching practice, my impressions aren’t going to be as dialed in as Eric, but here’s a few things.
* Things were getting a little chippy on a cool evening at the VMAC.
During “Skele”, Courtney Taylor caught a ball and as he tried to accelerate up the seam, Kelly Jennings – all 170 pounds of him – gave Taylor a pretty good bump and Taylor went to the ground. Taylor got up and was none too pleased saying a few choice words as we went back to the huddle.
In the final team drills, TJ Houshmandzadeh didn’t take kindly to a late lick laid on him by DB Travis Fisher after the whistle, and Housh had plenty to say for the defensive backs. Apparently in the past few days, safety CJ Wallace has had a few of these plays and the receivers appear to have had enough. There was plenty of barking after that from both sides, which always makes things more entertaining.
But don’t expect to see any physical confrontations, head coach Jim Mora mentioned that in the morning meeting with the press is that he thinks its unnecessary and isn’t exactly a measure of a team’s toughness.
“I don’t want to see a battle break out every day on the practice field. I don’t believe that that is ‘tough,’” Mora said. “I think, to a certain extent, it’s maybe not the smartest thing in the world. These guys are all tough. They’re all tough. We’ve made a concerted effort in the draft and free agency to find guys that have a strong physical presence.”
* Justin Forsett had a few decent runs during the early team periods, and Matt Hasselbeck looked much crisper in the afternoon practices than in the morning. On successive plays he hit Deon Butler and Housh on 10-yard plus gains.
* Jordan Kent, who isn’t known for having the best hands in traffic, made two or three nice catches during team drills. The kid is so athletic, if he could just figure the rest out, he’d be unbelievable.
* One person who does have great hands is tight end John Carlson and he didn’t disappoint. One thing you notice is his hands are so soft the ball doesn’t seem to make a sound when he catches it. Some guys you’ll hear a loud thud. Not Carlson. It’s just smooth, quiet and effortless.
* Deon Butler is impressive. He’s so quick that when he runs dig routes, the separation he gets from DBs who must respect his speed is impressive. He also seems unafraid to go over the middle, though I counted three times where he could have been absolutely lit up by defenders if it had been a game.
* Cory Redding may be one of the most immense human beings I’ve ever seen. He actually makes Patrick Kerney look small.
That’s about all I have. Not exactly in football mode quite yet, but it was still fun getting out there and watching. It does get you pumped up for football season.