Ironically enough, it looks like commenter Jack’s observation that he’s tired of reading about good practices preceding subpar gameday performance came just about the time I was out on the practice field scratching “looks ragged today” into my notebook.
Practice is generally going to look at least fairly crisp — the quarterback can’t get hit; the first team guys are playing against people who are often practice squad players for a reason; much of what’s being installed is the specific gameplan for this week’s opponent — so often the distinction between crisp and ragged is just a few plays or a general sense of malaise. Today it was a little of both.
- The most interesting thing today was the set of giant speakers sitting at one end of the practice field to simulate crowd noise. One equipment guy after another warned me that they were loud, but I was still impressed when they finally turned the things on. It’s a more treble-y sound than the bass roar of a live crowd, but it makes conversation in a normal voice completely impossible and even shouting difficult to understand. The fact that the offense can be successful at all in that situation is remarkable to me, and they actually seemed to be running smoother with the noise than they did without it.
- LaRon Landry asks more questions on the sidelines than any other guy, as far as I’ve noticed — and I want to emphasize that I mean that in a complimentary way. He’s always asking the cornerbacks what they would do in various situations, and why a play turned out the way it did, and if there’s something that should be handled differently. The talk gets highly specialized very quickly, so it’s tough for me to follow, but it’s always interesting to see.
- The main play that contributed to the ragged feeling mentioned above was a passing play that Coach Zorn canceled before it could get going, correcting the timing and forcing guys to reset and start again. That happens much less frequently than you might expect, so it stood out here.
- Devin Thomas did not have his best practice of the season, highlighted by a long pass going straight through his hands. Disappointed at missing the catch, Thomas jogged back to the line of scrimmage without bringing the ball, forcing one of the equipment guys to sprint down and get it. This seemed like the sort of thing that might make a bad practice even worse, but everyone joining together to shout at Thomas for leaving the ball actually seemed to rally the group and even boost Thomas a little bit to a few nice catches later on.
- Malcolm Kelly continues to look good, making catches both short and long. Like everyone else, I really hope we get him involved on Sunday.
- Injury update is actually good today: everyone was back out on the field except for Marcus Washington. Clinton Portis, Chris Samuels and Antwaan Randle El did not participate, but were taking what Zorn would call “mental reps.” Anthony Montgomery participated, although Zorn characterized him as “a little ginger” out there.
- And Shawn Springs practiced again, although at one point he got tangled up with Horace Gant and went down, which left me holding my breath. He popped back up, though, and finished out the practice without any noticeable problem.