Okay, Ray Willis was not expected to be a starter. But news that his knee injury will sideline him at least past the start of the regular season has to send chilling flashbacks to fans who watched injuries cripple the offensive line last season.
Although Willis has been banged up, he started 16 games at right tackle last season as five players got starts at left tackle after Walter Jones’ demise.
Where’s this leave the line? Okay, if the unraveling goes no further. But last season has to leave fans suspicious. Left guard Ben Hamilton turns 33 tomorrow. Center Chris Spencer has missed seven games the last two seasons. Veteran free agent Chester Pitts has the look of a guy who can play tackle, but he is not healthy enough for practice yet.
The import/export firm of Schneider & Carroll has been active in the upgrading of overall roster depth. The offensive line may be in need of critical attention at this point. But finding healthy and available offensive linemen who can help much at this point? A real challenge.
— Rookie Walter Thurmond came up with an impressive interception on the sideline in Monday’s practice. Thurmond is coming back from a “trifecta” knee injury, in which all three ligaments were damaged, and still wears a brace that looks very clunky on a cornerback.
But he continues to look like a guy who brings a thump when he tackles, and has the instincts for big plays. Carroll again cited him after Monday’s practice.
He can’t be 100 percent in terms of speed, but he’s still making himself visible.
— On one play in a team session Monday, Red Bryant appeared to manhandle guard Max Unger. Bryant has been one of the camp surprises at defensive end. Sometimes a player can catch somebody off balance and get a takedown that looks more impressive than it actually is. Maybe this was the case on Monday, but Unger plays with pretty good balance, and it seemed like another good example of how strong Bryant is … especially now that he’s playing lower and with a massive infusion of confidence.
— Ben Obomanu has been a little bit of a forgotten man in the receivers corps with addition of Mike Williams, the drafting of Golden Tate and the return of Deion Branch. After Saturday’s two catches for 36 yards, Obomanu had another good practice Monday.
They opened last season with four active-roster receivers (Burleson, Houshmandzadeh, Butler and Obomanu) with Branch injured.
How many do they keep this time around? Butler’s having a nice camp. Tate’s a given. Branch has earned coach’s raves. Williams has been impressive and could take a great deal of pressure of Carlson for Red Zone receptions. Housh has been dinged but is proven. Ruvell Martin has special-teams skills, too, as does Obomanu.
You make the call …