The weather today looked — from inside — much like yesterday, so this time I went out prepared … only to find that it was actually fairly mild and just a little drizzly. An odd start to what seemed like a generally odd practice.
- Practice itself felt odd because it was, again, very high energy, and yet a lot of what I was seeing on the field seemed somehow ragged. A few more dropped passes than usual, a very uncharacteristic Jason Campbell underthrow that should’ve been intercepted, things like that. Nothing I could specifically put my finger on, and there were certainly plenty of positive signs, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was unusual.
- I asked Casey Rabach what he saw at practice, and he said “Football players.”
What were they doing? “Practicing.”
Were they doing it well? “Yes.”
Excellent. “I also saw coaches. They were coaching.”
Were they doing that well? “Yes.”
What else were the coaches doing? “Yelling.”
When I first got here, everyone told me that Rabach was one of the best interviews in the locker room, but this is the first time I’ve really seen it in full effect.
- One thing that definitely did not look ragged was the defense. They were, to borrow a phrase, fired up and ready to go in just about all phases of the game. Rocky McIntosh made a terrific leaping interception in the end zone, prompting Greg Blache to yell “Take it back 107, Rocky!” DeAngelo Hall broke up a few passes, and Carlos Rogers also pulled down an INT. They look completely ready for the game.
- That was an impression that was confirmed when I talked to Rogers afterward. “Besides me looking good, I think the vibe was good also,” he said. “You know, I think everybody had fun, not only today but the whole week. Everybody was focused on their jobs and what they had to do. I know it’s a big week and everyone gets amped up for the Dallas game, but this week seemed like it was a bit different, you know?” In a good way? “Yeah, in a very good way.”
- I also asked Rogers about DeAngelo Hall‘s first week with the team. “Oh, yeah, he’s been fitting in real good. We let him know what we’re about early, and we’ve been having fun, talking about each other. It’s about us having fun when we get out there, and it’s about getting work done. We’ve got a good rotation going and that’s what it’s gonna take, you know? All of us. There’s a chance here for the team to be real special.”
- Chris Cooley had a couple of nice catches in practice, but that wasn’t what he wanted to talk about afterward. “I think one of the interesting things about Fridays is to see Zorn’s quarterback competitive side come out. We have an individual period and he gets out and throws passes to all the quarterbacks. I know it’s not for them to warm up at all, it’s just for him to throw some passes. I think that’s something interesting about Fridays.”
- He was also blocking hard during the running practices, but that wasn’t what he wanted to talk about either. “Another thing that’s interesting for me is that it’s a weigh-in day. We weigh in every Friday, and Zorn’s adamant about us weighing in. So I usually have to go pretty light Thursday night, and I wind up weighing four or five pounds less than I do any other day of the week. What was interesting today was that it had rained and been cold all week, so I had rain gear and wet rain gear, and I think I felt about twelve pounds lighter today. And I think really I was about twelve pounds lighter, if I had stood on the scale with all my pads, so I felt awesome today.” (For those of you who are curious, Cooley’s target weight is 254 pounds, as determined at the start of the year.)
- The injury situation, at least, was much improved. Clinton Portis was outside at practice getting what Zorn calls “mental reps” (i.e., not participating), and Anthony Montgomery is not going to be able to go on Sunday, but everyone else who has missed time this week was back in and participating to one extent or another. Zorn still lists Portis as a 50-50 gametime decision, so that’s something to keep an eye on.