Miss the evening practice yesterday? We’ve got your highlights!
Credit, once again, to Jason Barum.
Sun, Sep 7 - @ Rams (12:00 PM)
Sun, Sep 14 - Patriots (12:00 PM)
Sun, Sep 21 - @ Saints (12:00 PM)
Sun, Sep 28 - Falcons (3:25 PM)
Thu, Oct 2 - @ Packers (7:25 PM)
Sun, Oct 12 Lions (12:00 PM)
Sun, Oct 19 @ Bills (12:00 PM)
Sun, Oct 26 @ Buccaneers (12:00 PM)
Sun, Nov 2 Redskins (12:00 PM)
Sun, Nov 16 @ Bears (12:00 PM)
Sun, Nov 23 Packers (12:00 PM)
Sun, Nov 30 Panthers (12:00 PM)
Sun, Dec 7 Jets (12:00 PM)
Sun, Dec 14 @ Lions (12:00 PM)
Sun, Dec 21 @ Dolphins (12:00 PM)
Sun, Dec 28 Bears (12:00 PM)
Miss the evening practice yesterday? We’ve got your highlights!
Credit, once again, to Jason Barum.
We had Day 6 highlights up yesterday, and Day 7 highlights today!
The video was shot and edited by Jason Barum.
We’ve got Day 6 highlights up on Youtube!
Check them out here, with plays from the Player of the Day at the end, Derek Cox:
The video was shot and edited by Jason Barum, and the music is by him, too. Give him a follow on twitter @Burnem83
Any fan who has followed the NFL for a reasonable period of time has found or heard tell that the key to making the roster for those on the bubble is to make it on special teams. People see it on ESPN, Hard Knocks and any local sports coverage, as well as the plurality of written media around the country:
Young players are often too worried about learning the playbook, mastering the intricacies of the offense or defense, jockeying for position on the depth chart early in camp. But come cutdown time, they realize special teams is the key for fringe players.
NFL teams must cut their 90-player training camp rosters down to 75 by 4 p.m. Tuesday, and by Saturday evening teams must trim it to 53. Because [Special Teams Coordinator Darren] Rizzi determines who is on his unit, which makes up the third phase of football games, his opinions carry weight for the final five to 10 spots on the roster.
“History will tell you have an opportunity to make this football team,” said running backs coach Dan Roushar. “The quickest way to do that is to make an impression in the special teams.”
Lynch has had plenty of opportunities to use his skills as a runner at NIU, but he’s never blocked or tackled in high-level football. He’ll desperately need to work on his blocking and tackling to make himself appealing as a special teams contributor. Special teams may be his only shot at making this roster.
“Special teams are huge in this league, especially if you’re going to be one of those guys on the bubble trying to make the roster,” [Denver Broncos receiver Tavarres] King said.
The calculus is well laid-out by Gang Green Nation:
The guy who posts 9 catches for 100 yards in a preseason game has clearly had a good night and taken a step to making his team’s roster. Is this necessarily the most important thing if his team is set at the position, and his only way to making the roster is as the fifth receiver? Perhaps not. This guy’s playing time is likely to be limited, and he will not be a featured part of his team’s offense. What if this guy is an ace gunner on punt coverage units and is a quality return man? He will make much more of an impact in these roles so in an odd way they might be at least as important in a team’s evaluation.
This is the kind of thing that makes it tough on a guy likeDavid Nelson. I don’t think Nelson is explosive enough to be a quality starter. He’s NFL material, though. You could do a lot worse for a depth guy. The problem is he doesn’t really add value anywhere else. If you had a guy with Nelson’s receiving skills who was a special teams ace, you probably would have a player with decent value. Nelson might not make the roster if a younger guy he is up against can provide said value at another spot.
It’s even the lens by which smart sportswriters are looking at the odds of out of the closet Michael Sam’s chance of making the roster:
Improved pass-rushing traits will do nothing but help Sam’s chances of landing a roster spot, especially if he can translate that work into preseason games.
Sam’s biggest advantage when stacking up against the other linemen vying for jobs, though, is his ability to help on special teams.
That’s all probably true. So what are we to make of it? It’s the most difficult thing for an outsider to evaluate—both because special teams play is relatively esoteric to the outside football community and because people rarely keep track of it in camp. The closest proxy we have in Minnesota is the evolving depth chart put together by Mike Priefer every night and displayed for all the football community to see in the morning. Players that stay at the top of the depth charts of the various rosters probably have the best chance of making them.
Teddy Bridgewater, first round pick from the Minnesota Vikings, finally took actual reps with the first unit offense—after a lot of confusion regarding what it means to split reps and whether or not it had happened in the context of the first team offense.
Regardless of the saltiness of the local media in regards to the national coverage, Bridgewater’s first reps with the first team are at least a signal that the coaching staff is following through on its eventual promise to allow Bridgewater a true chance to compete by giving him snaps with the first team.
He only took five or so snaps with the first team offense in 11-on-11 drills, but there were quite a few snaps he took in place of the first team quarterback in individual drills and 7-on-7 drills, where he clearly outpaced Matt Cassel.
When compared to Matt Cassel or Christian Ponder, Teddy had a stellar day. In seven-on-seven drills, he hit nearly every target, most of them in stride. By comparison, Matt Cassel threw one interception and one near-interception on a dropped ball by Xavier Rhodes. Bridgewater would lead receivers in drills centered around receivers and tight ends running crossing routes out of the seam, while Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel would throw behind or force receivers to jump.
In fairness, it was an unusually bad day for Cassel, who would also see another batted pass and a few more errant throws in 11-on-11 drills. Though Bridgewater’s snaps with the first team were limited, they also looked good. Mike Zimmer downplayed the performance, his reps with the first team were fine; his biggest mistake came with the second team in a session where Dom Williams was rotating in at running back. Pressure forced Bridgewater to backpedal and he threw off his back foot, too far ahead of Williams.
He thus far hasn’t “evenly split” reps with Cassel; the veteran took many more snaps with the first team in every drill, as well as in the scrimmages.
For what it’s worth, Bridgewater has more than proven he deserves to take the lion’s share of first team reps if only to prove that he can hang with the veteran. As it stands he’s been slightly outperforming Cassel in camp, and that means he needs more bites at the apple. If he’s not the quarterback of the future, it’s better to see signs now.
The Vikings announced through their official twitter account that they waived receiver Josh Cooper and tackle Matt Hall (both of whom were at walkthroughs) to sign receivers Tyrone Walker and Andy Cruse.
Ty Walker is a smaller receiver, leaving Illinois State (Mike Zimmer’s alma mater) 5’10″ and 189 pounds. He ran a 4.59 40-yard dash, had a 39″ vertical and ran with a 4.41 short shuttle and a 6.99 three-cone, relatively impressive until you consider his weight. Here’s a scouting report from Draft Insider:
School: Illinois State
Bio: Senior total included 90 receptions/1319 yards/9 TDs after 64/787/8 the prior year.
Positive: Dependable small-school receiver with poor size/speed numbers. Comes back to the ball out of breaks, easily adjusts to errant throws, and makes the reception in stride. Fights with his hands to separate from defenders, displays outstanding hand/eye coordination, and competes to make receptions. Stays in bounds running after the catch and gives effort trying to pick up positive yardage.
Negative: One-speed receiver who lacks a quick release off the line. Minimal skill running after the catch.
Analysis: Walker was a reliable receiver with a nose for the end zone at Illinois State. He’s an undersized possession receiver by NFL standards, yet his natural receiving skills will get him looks for a West Coast offense.
He had previously been with the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers for a short time. Walker had expected to make the Green Bay roster after a very good preseason last year:
Walker finished with a team-high 11 receptions for 78 yards in the preseason. He has been far from perfect. The undrafted wideout had a pair of drops at St. Louis. At the end of Thursday’s game, Walker fumbled the ball, scrambling to poke it out for a teammate to recover. But overall, he has made the most plays among the rookies. On Friday, he hung onto a slant for 14 yards.
“Just the effort that I put out here,” Walker said. “I feel I deserve to be on the team.”
It helps that Walker has caught his share of passes from Aaron Rodgers in practice. The quarterback has shown confidence in Walker to make go-to plays within the offense. He hasn’t been doing his damage in camp solely with and against back-ups.
“That’s always good that I’ve caught passes from him,” Walker said. “He feels that he can come to me and throw me a ball, if he trusts me, I believe they’ll be able to trust me. It’s just how the numbers shake out.”
He drew plaudits from more than one publication.
Andy Cruse has one year of experience and has been on the Houston Texans roster. He’s taller at 6’3″ and 212 pounds. He ran a 4.66 40, a 4.22 short shuttle and 6.89 three-cone while jumping 34 inches in the vertical. The scouting report from Draft Insider:
Bio: Four-year starter who posted 74 receptions/681 yards/6 TDs as a senior after 43/391/4 the prior year.
Positive: Reliable pass catcher with NFL size. Displays good awareness on the field, comes back to the ball to make himself an available target, and consistently finds the soft spot in the defense. Uses his frame to shield away defenders, extends his hands, and works to make receptions away from his frame. Possesses soft hands. Makes difficult catches in a crowd, takes a big hit then holds onto the throw. Quickly transitions from making the catch to running after the reception. Gives effort blocking downfield.
Negative: One-speed receiver with limited quickness. Despite his size, has never been a great red-zone threat.
Analysis: Cruse showed terrific improvement as a senior and he’s a receiver who does the little things well. Unlikely to be selected at any point during the seven rounds, Cruse could catch on as a fifth receiver in the NFL.
Cruse’s preseason was not nearly as interesting, but his attention to detail is well worth noting.
We’ve got some depth chart news, but it’s basically fake. With Captain Munnerlyn on the PUP list (it’s a hamstring tweak, so not for long), Andrew Sendejo still nursing his back injury from the offseason and Chase Ford dealing with a broken foot, things are a little out of wack.
Expect movement upwards from people like Anthony Barr, who Zimmer is keeping on the second team right now because of his extensive absence in the offseason due to UCLA’s quarter system. The middle linebacker position is also in a lot of flux. Though Jasper Brinkley took the majority of the reps today and in the offseason at the Mike, there has been enough rotation here that it seems fairly relevant to indicate that these are soft charts at best.
Jamarca Sanford basically missed all of the offseason as well, due to an injury of his own, so he may move into the first team as the safety opposite Smith. McKinnon may end up taking Asiata’s spot before long.