A strangely warm, damp winter’s day on the practice fields. The fields themselves were in good shape — they were presumably covered during the actual rain — but it was wet enough out that the spaces between the fields were a soggy mess.
- Hey, look! It’s Clinton Portis at practice. He told the media he had a great practice, and Coach Zorn reiterated the sentiment after practice. Portis seemed to be hitting the holes well, caught the ball well out of the backfield, and generally seemed happy to be a full participant back on the practice field. That said, Ladell Betts was also running well today, and got a few impressed cheers from teammates for some of his efforts, so maybe it was just a good day for running backs.
- Everyone actually seemed relieved to be out of the open locker room, away from the microphones, and outside getting their actual work going, even when things weren’t necessarily going perfectly. At one point, Horace Gant got ahead of Justin Tryon streaking down the sidelines. Jason Campbell‘s pass was perfect … and went straight through Gant’s hands. Gant and Tryon were chatting about it afterward — Gant explaining how his focus had shifted, Tryon why he was a step behind — and the one thing they could both agree on was that the pass had been placed perfectly. It wasn’t the only time Campbell had that happen today; Betts and Devin Thomas also lost the handle of well-placed throws.
- Thanks to injuries, the offensive line has been completely reshuffled. Chris Samuels is out, obviously, and Pete Kendall had his usual Wednesday off, and both Jon Jansen and Randy Thomas were out of today’s practice with injuries. So when I jotted down the offensive line (it shifted some as practice continued), it was Stephon Heyer, Chad Rinehart, Casey Rabach, Devin Clark, and Jason Fabini. The good news is, four of those guys are used to practicing together; the bad news is, it’s because all four are backups. Fabini seemed optimistic, though: “The two young guys have been here since training camp,” he pointed out. Rabach expressed similar feelings. “We won a lot of football games with Stephon Heyer and Jason Fabini in the lineup last year,” he pointed out. “And Jon [Jansen] … who knows? I don’t think he’s gonna play this week with that injury, but he’s done crazier stuff before. We’ll be all right.”
- Chris Wilson made at least one nice play, getting outside of the tackle to knock down a wide receiver screen pass. “I’m feeling good,” he said, “just trying to get in the game.”
- Fred Davis had a heck of a practice, with Todd Yoder‘s knee ailing, and Davis found himself on the receiving end of compliments from Zorn. “I tip my hat to him,” Zorn said, after expressing confidence in the rookie tight end. Davis was active with the first team and the scout team today, so he got double work and may have actually made an impression with it.
- Other injuries of note: Shawn Springs, Chris Horton, Kedric Golston, Cornelius Griffin, Marcus Washington, and London Fletcher all did not practice (although Golston did get a little bit of stretching in, I think). And Carlos Rogers was out with a stomach flu. So the number of players practicing was a little on the light side.
- DeAngelo Hall continues to look terrific, ending practice with an interception off of a tipped ball. Since Hall arrived, the team has six interceptions; they had only one in the five games before signing him.
- And one amusing quote from Coach Zorn, after being asked if he’s worried about his future here: “I’m ready to be here for a LONG time, and I want to build… we’re trying to build a foundation here. We’re trying to build something with substance here. Not just a little toothpick house, or little glass walls. We want something solid here, so that’s what I’m all about, and that’s where I’m trying to go. I feel very comfortable.”