Today was the first day that I think the wind could easily be described as “biting,” and it was really blowing out there, everybody’s windpants snapping in the breeze. I looked to see if I could get a picture of the goalpost flags whipping around, but instead the whole goalposts were rocking back and forth. Not the weather you want for passing or kicking, that’s for sure.
- Good news for everyone who says I only post about what a great practice Jason Campbell is having, I guess: Campbell had a bit of a bumpy start today. Passes were sailing on him, execution seemed to be lacking, and even the characteristically stoic QB seemed a bit frustrated. He and Chris Cooley — perhaps taking their cue from the soothing QB/TE meetings that Jason Witten and Tony Romo allegedly have — spoke briefly off to the side, and it was at that point that practice turned for the offense. Campbell seemed to be moving smoother and easier and his passes were knifing through the wind to be caught. Cooley himself snagged two or three of them, including a high floater that he fielded almost like a punt, yelling afterward, “Did you see how I judged the wind on that one?” Whatever was said, the more positive tone held, and it finished as yet another strong practice in a week of them, which was something of a relief.
- It may have taken a sideline chat to make things run smoother from a football standpoint, but spirits were high all day. Maybe because of the stresses earlier this week, maybe just because it’s Friday, but everyone seemed unusually boisterous and enthusiastic. When Mike Sellers had a pass bounce off his hands, he was roundly mocked, with Devin Thomas holding out his hands and shouting, “Forty-nine ninety-five, Mike! Right here, just forty-nine ninety-five!” I thought he was trying to sell his gloves, but it turns out I underestimated the rookie’s offer: “I was trying to sell him my hands,” Thomas said afterward. “I’m going to put them up on eBay.”
- To his credit, Thomas had another practice where he backed up his personality with some performance, making a couple of nice catches and running well whenever he had an opportunity.
- As did Fred Davis. He got called out for a mental error or two, which I suppose is tied in to his limited time on gameday, but every time he has an opportunity to make a play, his athleticism impresses. I really hope he can earn himself the chance to bring some of that same execution and energy to the games.
- DeAngelo Hall continues to be a strong presence for the cornerbacks on the field, but today he demonstrated the sort of interpersonal skills that have earned him his reputation as a notorious locker room cancer and all-around bad guy. Get this: he broke up a pass intended for one of the practice squad receivers, accidentally knocking the guy down in the process, and then HE HELPED HIM UP AND SEEMED TO APOLOGIZE!!!!! Can you believe it?!?!? In all seriousness, Hall seems to be a strong addition to that unit, and not just for his gameday skills. I don’t know what he was like in Atlanta or Oakland, but the negative descriptions don’t even resemble the guy I’ve seen so far here.
- As I’ve mentioned before, it can be difficult to judge the performance of the offensive line. They’re not usually completing their blocks, and most of what they’re doing is learning assignments for the coming week. One trick that can help, though, is to listen to ever-vocal offensive line coach Joe Bugel as he shouts at the guys after a play. He’s not a man who’s afraid to speak his mind, and today he was full of praise for Jason Fabini, filling in for Jon Jansen (who did not practice), complimenting him several times over the span of practice. May or may not mean anything, but it beats the heck out of the alternative.
- The defensive line continues to impress me with their work in practice. I mentioned it yesterday, but again today, they just look crisp and businesslike. I get the sense that they’re all frustrated by their lack of sacks, but it doesn’t seem to affect the way they approach the week. (Jason Taylor, however, missed practice today for personal reasons.)
- Say what you will about his toughness, about his injury history, about whatever you like, but I can tell you this: there is a notable improvement in the secondary when Shawn Springs can go full speed, as he did today. Not to knock any of the other guys, because this team has a talented defensive backfield, but Springs is a difference-maker when he’s out there. So will he play on Sunday? Coach Zorn couldn’t promise anything. “From what I saw out there, he will go,” Zorn said, “but it will depend on how he feels.” He added, “There’s still an injury in there. He’s not a hundred percent, and it truly will be a gametime decision.”
- The wide receivers lived up to Antwaan Randle El‘s “We run” proclamation right up until the end of practice, when it switched to, “We ride.” Santana Moss, driving the cart, tried to tell Thomas that rookies weren’t allowed, but both Thomas and Malcolm Kelly piled on, followed by James Thrash. “It’s like a clown car,” someone observed as they drove off.