I take my place at the 50 yard line today. The first song this morning is appropriate. "Don't Stop Believin" by Journey. The ballboys set up the Juggs machine at the 30 yard line to Boz Scaggs "Lido Shuffle," and set the range for Kickoffs. Britton Colquitt is the first player out and he moseys on over to the far North field to loosen up. Riar Geer and Nathan Overbay stroll out, followed by Richard Quinn. Eric Decker, Daniel Graham and Kyle Orton show up and then Tim Tebow ambles out to the delight of the crowd. I overhear some of the Event staff saying there are 1400 fans in attendance so far, so the Celebrity Ga-Ga is held to a minimum. The rest of the team trickles out in twos and threes. A Lady Antebellum song is playing now. HORN.
Kickoff Return and blocking drills start the practice off. The Scout team dons the red socks over their helmets. Coach Priefer calls out the return plays and blocking assignments from the end zone area and they run through a variation of returns. Coach Keith Burns is up on the front lines giving detailed instructions and encouragement to his players. Perrish Cox is back at the Returner position. They run four or five plays and switch to the 2nd Team. Eddie Royal takes over as the KR. HORN.
The Defense travels to the far field and the Offense goes against the Scouts at half speed. They start out of the huddle a little shaky so Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy makes them huddle up again. They drill on running plays with an emphasis on the blocking scheme. I see some new formations and wrinkles that I didn't see last year. They walk through a few plays and Coach McCoy thoroughly explains what he wants to see and also covers the what-if scenarios. I am liking this attention to detail. HORN.
"Sweet Home Alabama" plays over the air as the players assemble at the goal line on the far field to loosen up their legs with some light 20 yard jogs. This morphs into a back pedal and then the Hop, Skip and Jump routine. "Ball and Chain" by Social Distortion is blaring loud and clear over the PA system as the players spread out to stretch. The Ball boys are setting up a set of hand-held blocking pads for the Offensive Linemen and the "Running Lane" mat for the Running Backs. "Fishin in the Dark" by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is playing now and Coach Tuten is putting the players through their paces. They break off and the Running Backs run through the hurdle pylons. HORN.
Players assemble for their individual position drills following an established routine. The QB's warm up passing to a ball boy, the Receivers are catching intermediate length passes from a coach and the RB's are running through a gauntlet of blocking pads. The Tight Ends are hitting the stationary blocking sled. This goes on for about 5 minutes. HORN.
The Quarterbacks start passing drills with the Wide Receivers. I see a 3 on 3 line blocking drill with 3 O-Line players and 2 D-Linemen and a Linebacker. I see Decker slip while planting on a break in his route and he doesn't show any ill effects from his injury (sigh of relief). The QB's passes look better than yesterday. Spirals are tightening and the passes are a little more crisp. There are still some that are improperly read, a few that are thrown in the ground at the Receivers feet, and some that sail, but I still see some improvement. HORN.
7 on 7's begin with the 1st Team Units. Kolby Smith has a good run and on the next play he is stuffed. Shoulder Pads are clashing and the "Pad Noise" is good. The Linemen are battling. It goes back and forth with who wins on each play. Lance Ball has a couple of carries and he runs for a tough yard and a half. Then a trap play is successful and he flies into the Defensive backfield in a heartbeat. This is one of the better plays on the day. Bruce Hall gets two carries while Stanley Daniels runs a lap. Spencer Larsen bounces through a tackle as Richard Quinn takes a lap for a False Start. Mario Haggan hits Kolby Smith hard in the hole and Coach McDaniels gives the RB an earful. Kolby promptly fumbles on his next carry and the Defense recovers. Take a lap Kolby. As I was saying, the battle between the O-Line and D-Line is pretty even with neither side really getting the upper hand. The players are told to be physical and finish. Bruce Hall has another carry and hits the hole hard. Coach McCoy calls for the players to re-huddle when Tebow doesn't get them to the line in a timely manner. On the next play, the snap exchange between J.D. Walton and Tebow is fumbled and for some strange reason, neither one runs a penalty lap. Lance Ball fights for a tough yard. HORN. The D-Line gets the win for this session.
11 on 11's 1st Team with Richard Quinn in at Tight End. Lance Ball runs through the second level and D.J. Williams gets called out by the coach for a missed tackle. Orton runs a QB sneak on the next play. Kolby Smith has a nice run and Joe Mays is shaken up on the play. Bruce Hall runs through the second level. The O-Line did a nice job blocking on that play. Toney Baker shows some acceleration around the right side. HORN. The O-Line wins this round.
They switch directions and continue 11 on 11's. Josh McDaniels is very vocal today. They are still emphasizing the run. Marquez Branson knocks his man (Linebacker) back on his heels with a nice block. On the next play, he goes in motion and hits Nate Jones with a squared up block. Tebow's turn. He completes a nice crisp pass to Eric Decker. No holding the ball this time. Good execution. HORN.
Kick Return Drills once again using the Juggs machine. Cassius Vaughn and Alphonso Smith both have fine returns. Perrish Cox and Eddie Royal get their reps as well. Matthew Willis shows off some of his speed with a great return, and Perrish Cox takes the last rep around the right side for a nice gain. Matt Prater comes out for a "Live" Kickoff and he squib kicks a grounder that Eddie Royal fields cleanly. On a normal Kickoff, Perrish Cox returns and Eddie returns a short pop-up Kickoff. HORN.
11 on 11's. The PA system blasts out some rather loud Hip Hop music to the delight of the Defense. The Offense works on their "Hostile environment" crowd communication. Kolby Smith has a good straight run through the middle. Orton hits Daniel Graham with a late pass, but Marcus Thomas had the sack. Working through the simulated "Noise," Lance Ball gains 5 yards on a check down by Orton. There is a problem on the next play and the Offense must re-huddle. Then Kyle Orton is sacked by the entire D-Line after the pocket was utterly destroyed. LeKevin Smith beat J.D. Walton on the play. Brady Quinn is up, and he hands off to Bruce Hall, who fights for 3 yards on a stretch play. Next is a play-action pass to Marquez Branson and he drops it. HORN.
They switch sides and continue, starting with the 1st Teams. Bruce Hall gets a carry. The loud music continues to dominate. A Toss left to Lance Ball is stuffed for a loss. Paul Duncan is in at Left Tackle, he slips on his backpedal and loses his block. The play goes to the right with Toney Baker toting the rock. Baker gets good yardage on a Toss to the right side. Next play, Jarvis Moss has his way with Duncan as the 2nd Team does battle. Riar Geer gets a catch for 9 yards. Brady Quinn overthrows (too high and too long) to Geer on the ensuing play. I'm not sure if he out muscled it. or the ball sailed on him. Tebow's turn. He hands the ball off to Lance Ball and sells the fake well. On the following play, Tim holds the ball too long and Doom is there for the sack. He fires a pass to Patrick Honeycutt on the next snap with Champ Bailey covering the receiver like a blanket. HORN.
The Units switch sides and continue. 1st Team. Brian Dawkins misses a clear interception as he drops a pass directly at him, and promptly does a set of push-ups. Orton throws away the next pass on a possible miscommunication. The ball sped right through the middle past everyone. DeMaryius Thomas tries to out-reach Champ on a pass behind him, but Bailey knocks it away smiling. Richard Quinn makes a catch and them Wesley Woodyard knocks it out of his hands. Live ball. Quinn has to take a lap for that. Orton completes consecutive passes to Brandon Lloyd and Eddie Royal. Mario Haggan strips the ball from Tebow. I lobby for it, but again he doesn't have to run a lap. Then Orton hits Stokely over the middle. HORN.
They switch sides and continue 11 on 11's. Kyle Orton passes to Jabar Gaffney who grabs the ball from Champ. Spencer Larsen has a catch over the middle and there he collides with Robert Ayers. Larsen loses that battle, but he bounces up and pats Ayers on the head. Tebow is pressured by Elvis Dumervil and Tim manages to get the ball to DeMaryius Thomas, but Champ Bailey breaks up the play. Jarvis Green beats Paul Duncan to sack Tebow and Tim takes off down the field. The crowd cheers. Marcus Thomas tips a Brady Quinn pass intended for Bay-Bay. The Defense decides to blitz and Orton counters with a screen pass to Bruce Hall for a good play. Lance Ball catches a pass underneath that is wide open because the Receivers cleared out the defenders by running deep routes.
Alphonso Smith breaks up a deep pass intended for Brandon Stokely. The pocket collapses on Brady Quinn and he manages to rifle the ball to Decker on a deep Post and Eric makes a Lynn Swann type catch. Best play of the day. Kyle overthrows Brandon Lloyd on a deep pass attempt, then hits Matthew Willis on an inside WR screen. DeMaryius Thomas lines up to do battle with Champ Bailey and Champ is talking to the rookie. Orton throws behind the pair (both players are holding). LeKevin Smith gets to Orton for a sack. Brandon Lloyd makes a circus catch at the sideline but only gets one foot inbounds. Orton hits Daniel Graham on a reverse pass over the middle. Brady Quinn throws a pass to Marquez Branson, who tips it and Darcel McBath picks it off. The next play is a Flea Flicker. Orton hits Lloyd on a deep comeback in front of Brian Dawkins. I notice some booming high punts coming from the far field, so Colquitt must be doing well. Kyle Orton throws a pass at the feet of Richard Quinn, who is well guarded by Renaldo Hill. Tebow tries to execute a jump pass on the next play. It is a bad pass and I shake my head in disgust. What's next. Drawing plays in the dirt? Come on! Tebow is forced to run on the next play because no one is open. Kolby Smith runs for some tough short yards. The Defense puts pressure on Kyle Orton and he manages to hit Eddie Royal for a substantial gain. HORN.
They switch sides once more, and Orton throws a sideline completion to Jabar Gaffney. Coach Priefer calls for the Punt team to hustle out. Britton Colquitt is punting from a couple yards deep in the end zone. He punts four times and each of them make it out just beyond the 50 yard line. The last punt is a full play, Perrish Cox fields it and the coverage is there. The 11 on 11 drills start up again with the 1st Team. A little outlet pass is thrown to Bruce Hall and he runs away from his cover man, who is none other than Ronald Fields. Talk about creating mis-matches. Kyle runs a new wrinkle designed to draw a penalty. The Kickoff team returns to the field and an onside kick is attempted. It is recovered by DeMaryius Thomas of the receiving team. HORN.
It is now 10:45 AM. The coach gives us fans some Bonus time. Time to practice the 2 minute Offense. On the first play, Kyle Orton completes a pass to Brandon Lloyd who catches it while on his back. This is followed by a sideline catch by Lloyd. The chains are moving. However, Justin Bannan is lining up almost at Linebacker depth and he really gets a full steam power rush going. It is enough to disrupt and collapse the pocket single handedly. Talk about bodies in motion, this man is big! Orton hits Lance Ball on an outlet pass and then completes a deep post to Jabar Gaffney for a touchdown. HORN.
The Field Goal Unit assembles and Britton Colquitt places the snap at the 47 yard line. Matt Prater's kick is good. He makes all his attempts, from spots at the 43 and 46 yard lines. They line up for a spot at the 56 and run a fake attempt. The ball is placed at the 39 and Prater nails it by a long shot. It hits the roof of the VIP tent and would have been good from the 50 easily. The final spot comes at the 38 and it is good also. Perrish Cox gets in the backfield, but not quite far enough to block the FG try. HORN.
Time for Wind sprints. Coach Tuten mixes it up and the players go endzone to end zone in three separate groups. The Linemen make up the last group and we cheer them on loudly. I see Chris Kuper smiling. Since Linemen are the Blue Collar guys that hardly get any attention or notoriety, they feed off the love. Each group runs up and back twice and then they run to the 50 yard line and back to the goal line. The Team Huddle signals the end of practice , and then there is a cool down period for about 5 minutes. Autograph Time. This time Tebomania is in full force. Tim comes over to sign autographs and of course there is a mad rush by the photographers, film cameras, news crew, and the fans. I decide I can either try to get him to sign my hat, or get most if not all the rest of the players signatures. I opt for the latter. I get Kyle Orton, Brady Quinn and Eric Decker to sign my hat and then go see if there is any possibility for a Tebow. As soon as I get over there, the Horn blows and it's time for the players to get to their team meeting. Britton Colquitt , Matt Prater and Lance Ball were the other players signing autographs today. The afternoon practice is closed to the public and tomorrows practice was canceled for a special event, so maybe I can get those pictures I took posted. I have quite a few, so stay tuned.
Many players got the opportunity to return kicks and all of them looked good. The tempo of today's practice was less intense than yesterday, but it was more physical, in my opinion. Chalk it up to the heat difference. It was hotter this morning than it was yesterday afternoon. There was some sloppiness getting out of the huddle and set on the line today, and since I heard the coaches getting vocal over it, you can be sure that will be addressed in their meeting. More of the Offense got installed today. The Defense is ahead of the Offense naturally. The D-Line has the edge over the O-Line at this point. There were more dropped and misplaced passes this morning. Lance Ball's run on the Trap play and the Brady Quinn deep pass to Eric Decker tie for best play of the day. Tebow had some good moments and some bad ones, but he made a few people happy by signing autographs today. All in all, not bad for Day 3.