Well, I'm running late again. I really must stop trying to do everything at the last second. I get into the practice field at 2:38 and the Kickoff Return Team is already practicing. I see Perrish Cox field a kickoff as I make my way to the primo viewing area. I am forced to sit at the near 40 yard line (as opposed to the far 45). It's not a bad spot and I settle in comfortably. It looks like rain is in the forecast and it is blustery to say the least. The HORN sounds.
8 minutes goes on the clock. The Offense gathers at the 20 yard line to run against the Scouts (other Offensive players). They practice running plays. I see Brandon Lloyd doing some kind of "Rain Dance" and the whole Offense is laughing like mad. I see Brandon Stokely, Spencer Larsen and Jabar Gaffney are present, but Marquez Branson and Eddie Royal are not. HORN.
The clock resets to 13 minutes and the players assemble at the Goal line of the far field for their jogging and Hop, skip, and Jump drills. George Strait sings "Cowboys Like Us" and I see the new Linebacker, Johnny Williams, is wearing Nick Greisen's number 54. There's no mercy at all in the NFL is there. I also see that Brian Dawkins, Champ Bailey, Chris Baker and D.J. Williams are on the field. D.J is still wearing the "No Contact" orange jersey.
The team spreads out to stretch and Jamey Johnson's "Somewhere between Jennings and Jones" plays throughput the complex. Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" is next up. So they're playing both kinds of music--Country AND Western. It's just from another Country, that's all.
As usual, with about 2 minutes to go in the segment, the players break off toward their positional drills. The ballcarriers run the hurdles and the Offensive Linemen "Shuffle" in full sync to Coach Clancy Barone's hand signals. HORN.
4 minutes on the clock. Individual position drills begin. The Quarterbacks are passing to the ball boy directly in front of me. I take a few pictures and can hear the O-Line moving the 7-man blocking sled 3 yards at a time. The Wide Receivers join the QB's and warm up further. The Running Backs are hitting the stationary sled. On the other field, the Linebackers go against each other and the D-Linemen do the same. HORN.
The clock resets to 5 minutes. On the far field, I see the Running Backs are pass blocking against the Inside Linebackers. On the near field to my left, The Tight Ends are blocking against the Outside Linebackers. "Wink" Martindale pays particular attention to his OLB's. HORN.
6 minutes are put on the clock for this segment. The Offense drills on running plays against thier own Scouts. Three of the Scouts are wearing the red tank tops designating the "Mike" and "Will" Linebackers as well as the Strong Safety. This allows the QB's to make the line calls so the Linemen can identify the blocking direction. It also helps because the Scouts in this segment are wearing the same White jerseys as the rest of the Offense. Bruce Hall gets a rep. Lance Ball gets three carries and Justin Fargas runs the ball 4 times. HORN.
18 minutes on the clock. 11 on 11's with the ball spotted right in front of me on the 40 yard line. The 1st Team Offense is moving from my left to right. The 1st Team Defense have red jerseys to simulate Cincinnati Bengal players. They are also running a 4-3 Base Defense to give the offense an accurate look. Ben Garland, Chris Baker, Jamal Williams and Jeff Stehle are the front four. A coach gives the Defense Scout formations also. Lance Ball has a good run. Justin Fargas gets 2 yards. Rap music is piped in to simulate crowd noise and the echoes bounce off the buildings and back to the spectators. Bruce Hall runs for 4 yards. Lance Ball runs for 4 yards. Justin Fargas takes off around the right side for about 10 yards. Bruce Hall gets a carry for 3 yards and is then stuffed at the line on his next carry. Fargas gets another carry for 2 yards. Metallica's "Enter Sandman" assaults the eardrums and the Offense rotates in the 2nd Unit. Eric Olsen is playing Center and Tim Tebow is repping at QB. Tebow hits Patrick Carter with a swing pass and then hands off to Lance Ball. Ball runs down the left side behind Spencer Larsen and the football is stripped from his hands. Daniel Graham recovers and Lance takes a lap. Justin Fargas runs for 4 yards. Tebow passes complete to Alric Arnett. HORN.
The clock resets to 9 minutes and they switch sides. This segment is between the 1st Team Units. Bruce hall runs for no gain. Justin Bannan, Jamal Williams and Ryan McBean make up the D-Line. The Linebackers are Robert Ayers, Akin Ayodele, D.J.Williams and Mario Haggan. Bruce Hall gets a 2 yard carry. Toney Baker has a pair of 5 yard carries and the 2nd Team Defense rotates in for some reps. LeKevin Smith, Ronald Fields and Marcus Thomas man the D-Line. Justin Fargas is strung out down the line for no gain. Kevin Alexander, Wesley Woodyard, Joe Mays and Jammie Kirlew are the Linebacking Unit. Bruce Hall runs left for 7 yards. Eric Olsen gets a good block on Ronald Fields. Then Seth Olsen makes a good block on Fields. Lance Ball has a pair of carries for 2 yards apiece. The 2nd Team Offense now Scouts for the 1st Team Defense. Tebow is taking the reps again at Quarterback. Chris Baker takes Eric Olsen with him all the way down the line of scrimmage. HORN.
10 minutes go on the clock and it's time for the Kickoff Coverage Unit to go through their drills. Matt Prater's Kickoffs are going through the end zone and more than one goes through the uprights. There is some wind helping them too. David Bruton, Kevin Alexander, Spencer Larsen, Johnny Williams, Joe Mays, Perrish Cox, Nate Jones, Matthew Willis, Wesley Woodyard and Darcel McBath are on the Cover Team. David Bruton and Syd'Quan Thompson are not the only players sporting Dreadlocks on the team, Johnny Williams is too. The Kick Return Unit is taking reps now and Perrish Cox trades off with Syd'Quan Thompson as returners. Coach Mike Priefer shouts the Return plays. Matthew Willis takes the last rep at returner. HORN.
5 minutes are on the clock. The Defense goes off to the far field and the Offense settles things down and the QB's run the RB's, TE's, and WR's through passing drills. HORN.
The clock resets to 14 minutes. 6 on 7's with the Defensive "7" as the Scouts. Kyle Orton passes to Jabar Gaffney. Then Orton hits Richard Quinn on a TE screen. Kyle to Brandon Stokely on a deep square in. and then again to Stokely over the middle. Orton completes a swing pass to Justin Fargas. Brady Quinn hits Britt Davis deep over the middle and Britt has to go up and get it. He then connects with Matthew Willis on a post pattern. Tim Tebow comes in and passes a floater to Alric Arnett at the sideline. Tebow then passes to Toney Baker on a middle screen and Bruce Hall in the flat. HORN.
A 7 minute segment starts. The Units change sides. The Offense is running Scouts for the Defense to prey upon. Brady Quinn throws a pick right at Brian Dawkins that is dropped by "Weapon X." I see Mario Haggan doing well in Zone coverage. He hands off a receiver to the Safety and covers the RB coming out of the backfield. Josh McDaniels is getting vocal. Tebow throws one up high and deep, overthrowing everyone. His next pass is almost intercepted by Perrish Cox--if it was against Champ Bailey, I guarantee it would have been 6 points the other way. Mario Haggan knocks down (and nearly intercepts) the rookie's next pass. The fact that nobody is rushing the passer doesn't elude me either. Tebow's next pass literally floats down the field, and the wind is with him. He finally completes a nice pass in front of Champ Bailey. HORN.
14 minutes on the clock. Some devastating noise that is supposed to be passing as music comes across the PA speaker. When I say noise, I mean the Bass is so distorted it sounds like it blew the speakers out. Anyway, the 1st Team Offense is going against the 2nd Team Defense Scouts. Kyle Orton swings a pass to Spencer Larsen and then hits Lance Ball for a 10 yard gain. Coach McDaniels is having a talk with Brandon Lloyd regarding the pass route he just ran. Bruce Hall runs a slant for good yardage. D.J. Williams misses a pick--the red "Scout" tank top he's wearing got in the way and he rips at it in disgust--then does a set of push-ups. Lance Ball gets a carry and Brady Quinn connects with Spencer Larsen on a 15 yard square in. Tebow takes a bad snap and passes the ball at the feet of his receiver. The "Terrible Noise" is replaced by George Clinton's "We Need the Funk." HORN.
They switch sides and put 5 minutes on the clock. This time it's the 1st Team Defense against the 2nd Team Offense "Scouts." Brian Dawkins picks off Brady Quinn's first pass. The number two Unit comes in and does a good job stopping scripted Bengal running plays. Tim Tebow completes a pair of passes to two Scout teamers. The receivers are wearing the red jerseys so I can't identify them. Lance Ball gets a carry. Then Tebow makes a sidearm pass at the feet of his Running Back. HORN.
9 minutes on the clock. They switch sides for some 1st Teams 11 on 11's. Brian Dawkins breaks up an Orton pass intended for Richard Quinn. Kyle makes a high throw that Daniel Graham goes up and gets. Lance Ball runs. 2nd Teams rotate in and Bruce Hall takes a run through the middle into the second level. Kyle Orton throws deep to Patrick Carter, who makes a beautiful over the shoulder catch that goes for 50 yards. Kyle throws a pass to nowhere that may have been intended for Daniel Graham. Tim Tebow passes a low short incomplete. Robert Ayers gets in for the sack and Tebow shovel passes to Britt Davis. Kyle Orton throws deep to Brandon Lloyd and the ball sli[s right through the receiver's hands. Josh McDaniels is having a talk with Tebow. Orton hits Brandon Stokely sitting down in the Zone. Brady Quinn has the ball tipped at the line but Stokely makes the catch anyway. A Kyle Orton pass intended for Matthew Willis is broken up by Alphonso Smith. HORN.
6 minutes is put on the segment clock. The Chains come out and the ball is spotted on the 10 yard line. The scenario is; 4th quarter, down by 2 points, one timeout and 2 minutes on the game clock. Orton hits Brandon Stokely for 7 yards. Kyle passes to Matthew Willis on a deep post out to the 35 yard line. Kyle bounces the next pass to Stokely and the clock stops at 1:15. Orton overthrows Stokely near the sideline. The guy next to me fields the ball one-handed off the bounce. Kyle hits Brandon Stokely for a 15 yard gain. Orton passes down the sideline intended for Matthew Willis, but Andre' Goodman won't let him get inside to make a play on the ball. 41 seconds left, ball on the 50 yard line. Kyle passes to Brandon Lloyd who toe taps inbounds at the 38 yard line. Brandon runs right up into the crowd very close to me and I don't miss a beat (I'm at the 40 remember). Another Orton pass to Lloyd for 7 more yards and then Kyle overthrows Lloyd at the 2 yard line. 12.1 seconds left and the ball is at the 33 yard line. Orton passes to Lloyd down at the 20. 7.5 seconds left. The Field Goal unit converts. HORN.
The narrow goal posts are brought over and set into position and Britton Colquitt is holding for Matt Prater on the left hash mark at the 33. The kick is good. The spot is moved to the right hash at 39 and again the kick is good. Coach Priefer has them move back 5 yards and Prater makes two more. The kicks are going over the V.I.P. tent easily. The ball is spotted at the 50 and Prater's kick is a low line drive that barely makes it higher than the line. Spot at the 51, Prater misses just to the right and the Team gathers over to him jeering. They set it up once more at 51. Apparently there is an incentive riding on the next kick. Prater nails it and the team is ecstatic. I figure that kick just got them out of running sprints at the end of practice, but I learn later that curfew is dropped. The Team huddles up at midfield. After the break, quite a few players kneel in prayer. possibly giving thanks for the lack of injuries this practice.
Autograph time. Champ Bailey, Alphonso Smith, David Bruton, Perrish Cox, Kyle McCarthy, and Tony Carter are among the signees. I manage to get Brian Dawkins, Renaldo Hill, Syd'Quan Thompson and Darcel McBath to sign a ball cap.
Well, the Offense didn't come out flat today and I think Josh McDaniels was content with the effort. Tomorrow morning's practice got canceled for the public so I get the weekend off. The practice is open to the media only and the next available open-to-the-public practice will be next Tuesday.