Today felt like one of those practices that was more about who was missing than who was there, which is never a particularly good sign.
- The defensive backfield is a casualty tent at this point. Limited or not practicing at all today were Carlos Rogers, Fred Smoot, and Chris Horton, and Shawn Springs tweaked his calf toward the end of practice and was being looked at immediately afterward. That would be the top three cornerbacks and the starting strong safety, if you’re scoring at home — and the guy who was the starting strong safety at the season opener is on injured reserve. Coach Zorn said after practice that he fully expects Horton and Rogers to play, but not having them in at practice on a Thursday is a worrisome sign. Smoot he considers the most doubtful of the injured guys. At least Cleveland doesn’t have an incredibly talented young receiver who needs careful covering or anything like that.
- Jason Taylor sat out of practice with swelling in his calf. Clinton Portis sat out of practice, and Coach Zorn said that Portis might sit out tomorrow as well, although he’s expected to practice on Saturday and play on Sunday. Chris Samuels sat out of practice to rest his ankle, but is expected to play. All three of those guys are former Pro Bowlers, and you hate seeing guys like that miss practice. “It’s a real concern,” Zorn said. “You’ve gotta have the example being out there.”
- There WERE also a few guys who actually, you know, ran around on the field and did things. The one who stood out the most to me was LaRon Landry, who broke up four separate passes that I noticed, two of them intended for Fred Davis (including the airborne gem above). So at least the one starting DB left standing at the end of practice acquitted himself well.
- A new word for the Zorn Lexicon: the offensive line was described as “salty”. I’ll get their opinion on this development as soon as I can.
- Shawn Springs looked good while he was in, covering well as always but also being effective jamming receivers on the line in one on one drills; he notably hammered Malcolm Kelly, which is especially impressive given Kelly’s size.
- Kelly did make a few nice catches, though, once he got off the line, prompting Antwaan Randle El to jog over to him and say, “When you figure out how to use that big frame of yours, you’ll be” something inaudible, presumably synonymous with “really good” or something like it.
- Shaun Alexander is fitting in nicely, carrying the ball well as far as I can tell. It’s tough for me to judge running drills, because so much of what makes a running back great is what he does in full contact. That said, Alexander definitely looks more like Shaun Alexander in the 37, even if it is a reminder about the depressing end to Reed Doughty’s season.
- It’s somewhat amusing to remember how focused we all were on Jason Campbell in preseason, on his delivery time, his field vision, everything, given how well he’s played so far this season. He looked good again today, moving around and making quick decisions, and I kept hearing Coach Zorn compliment various parts of his game — “Nice throw!” or “THAT’S the read!” and stuff like that. What a difference six interception-free weeks make.
- O-line vs. D-line drills were enjoyably violent as always. “I thought the offensive line had a great practice today,” said Jon Jansen afterward. The backup O-line was especially impressive, with Andrew Crummey and Devin Clark both having surprisingly effective outings. Hopefully we won’t need to see them do it in a game this year, but it’s good to know that they’re showing some flashes.