Well, this is a first for me. For some reason, afternoon practice was moved up today and combined with the morning it’s-not-a-walkthrough. This has happened before for specific reasons — weather alerts and holidays, for example — but this is the first time I’ve seen the routine disrupted for no specific reason. Some players speculated that it was precisely to shake up the routine, others thought it might be to prevent them from warming up, cooling down, and warming up again. Whatever the reason, though, practice was moved, and most of the players were happy. “Going straight through, man, that’s good — you don’t have that dead time,” Demetric Evans told me afterward.
- Finally, probably too late for it to make a huge difference, just about everyone is healthy. The only person who didn’t practice at all was Jon Jansen, and London Fletcher was limited, but I believe just about everyone else was back at or near full speed.
- The start of practice was a bit of a study in frustration, possibly because of the change in time. Nothing major broke down, but people seemed to be having trouble getting in sync, guys were jumping offsides, and the whole thing, in the words of Todd Yoder “might’ve lacked some focus for some reason.”
- Things improved a bit as the players broke into 7-on-7 drills, and eventually the defense seemed to get things completely together. Chris Horton was clearly back up to full speed (or, to be more accurate, full practice speed), both rushing the quarterback and dropping back into coverage, and H.B. Blades made a couple of very nice plays to break up running plays and swing passes in the backfield. Carlos Rogers also was showing some quickness today.
- The offense never did seem to fully get themselves on track today, though. The line was coming off the ball quickly enough — and with Pete Kendall back, this should represent the line we see on gameday — but the receivers and quarterbacks just didn’t seem to be finding their groove.
- Coach Zorn was asked about the mathematically remote possibility of making the playoffs, and he more or less shrugged it off, saying that all the team could focus on was the Eagles and noting, “They say buying lottery tickets, the odds are against you.” I thought he struck the right balance between keeping guys engrossed and keeping expectations realistic, for whatever that’s worth.
- Zorn also acknowledged bluntly that it more or less comes down to a numbers game each week between Malcolm Kelly and Fred Davis. Davis is more likely to play this week, unless an injury opens up a spot to activate Kelly.
- One concern about this team that I commonly hear is that they lack that angry, obnoxious, fiery guy to get the other people fired up. This is not completely correct, though: Ryan Boschetti practices like a maniac, and is constantly goading the offensive linemen and anyone else who comes into earshot. I’m not sure how much of it is in fun and how much is serious, but it’s something I’m going to be keeping an eye on over the next few practices.