The West squad held its second practice of the East-West Shrine Bowl on Tuesday afternoon in St. Petersburg, Fla. The players were wearing pads and hitting throughout the session. Players were not tackling ball carriers to the ground, as instructed. On a stop, the defender would wrap and hug the ball carrier before letting go. This practicing technique is used to prevent injuries.
After warming up, the players worked in their individual position groups. The defensive backs on the West squad have some talent. Two standouts among them are West Virginia cornerback Keith Tandy and Iowa cornerback Shaun Prater. During the early session, both of them showed impressive hip fluidity as they turned and broke on deep passes. Both corners are also physical with receivers. They did an overall good job of running with receivers and not allowing separation.
Tandy almost had a two-pick practice. In seven-on-sevens, he jumped a route and undercut the receiver on a quick out. The pass got on Tandy quickly as he darted in front, but the ball bounced off his pads. In the 11-on-11 scrimmage session, Tandy again came close to an interception when he undercut a route. Tandy just missed the ball but disrupted the receiver enough to force an incompletion. Tandy was clearly disappointed he didn't come away with a turnover, but he showed quality coverage and the ability to get in position for some turnovers.
There were a lot of one-on-one sessions spread out around the field in this practice. The linebackers and running backs went against each other in pass routes out of the backfield. USC running back Marc Tyler showed some nice routes. He burned a linebacker, but also had a badly dropped pass after getting open on another route. Tyler (5-10, 230) has an NFL body along with some quickness.
TCU linebacker Tank Carder played well and did a quality job of staying with backs out of the backfield. It was impressive to see Carder closely cover quick, smaller running back Bobby Rainey from Western Kentucky. Later on in the nine-on-nine run scrimmage, Carder blasted a fullback in the backfield to blow up a run. Carder also flowed down the line to make a good stop of Tyler about three yards downfield. Carder had a few mistakes in practice, but overall, he looked improved.
Other highlights from that nine-on-nine session saw Rainey break off a nice touchdown run. Tyler burst through the line for a good run behind the right side of the line, and Arkansas linebacker Jerry Franklin had some quality plays. The 6-foot-1, 241-pound Franklin is a quick player who definitely looks like a 4-3 defender at the next level. Rainey and Tyler both had quality days. Tyler has an ability to burst through arm tackles, run behind his pads and get yards after contact. Right now, he looks like the top back on either team.
The defensive and offensive linemen spent a good amount of time going against each other in one-on-one pass blocking. The line play in the solo battles and the nine-on-nine run scrimmage was the focus of a lot of the prominent decision-makers present. Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen and Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney both focused on the lines rather than the passing scrimmages on the other end of the field.
Colorado guard/right tackle Ryan Miller is tough to figure out as he can look dominant on one play and terrible on the next. At 6-foot-6, 326-pounds, Miller has a good skill set to work with, but he must get more consistent. At right tackle, Miller was burned by Arnaud Gascon-Nadon from Laval University (Canada) for a sack on a speed rush. This week, Miller could be proving that he will have to stay at guard in the NFL, which will definitely hurt his draft stock.
An offensive tackle who bounced back on Tuesday after a disappointing first day was BYU offensive tackle Matt Reynolds. He fared well in his one-on-one matchups with Ole Miss defensive end Kentrell Lockett and Laval's Gascon-Nadon. Reynolds (6-4, 310) stonewalled Gascon-Nadon's bull rush and mirrored Lockett to stand him up away from the quarterback marker. In the team scrimmage, Reynolds continued his strong play with a nice run block, reaching the second level to give a shot to the Mike linebacker. Reynolds also did well in pass protection on some plays in the full team scrimmage. He needed a good practice and most definitely did.
Lockett had one of the most impressive one-on-one victories when he absolutely destroyed Nebraska offensive tackle Marcel Jones on a bull rush. In the blink of an eye, Lockett bull rushed the big tackle into the quarterback dummy. That rush drew a lot of cheering from his Ole Miss teammates and chatter on the sidelines.
Two tight ends stood out with quality practices. Michigan's Kevin Koger and North Carolina State's George Bryan both played well. Koger (6-3, 262) and Bryan (6-5, 265) are big, physical tight ends in the ground game. Each had an impressive catch in traffic down the middle seam in the team scrimmage. Koger especially had some nice blocks in the run period.
Boise State wide receiver Tyler Shoemaker had his second straight day of production. He is hard for defensive backs to cover downfield with some quickness and route-running. Shoemaker (6-1, 214) also has some size, which he uses well.
Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa is the most effective signal-caller at moving the chains, but his height is a killer (5-11, 212). Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish has a skill set that could interest some teams as a developmental project.
Here is a quick list of some of the post-practice interviews between the player and a team that was spending some time talking to the prospect:
Kansas City - Fresno State wide receiver Devon Wylie and Virginia cornerback Rodney McLeod
Indianapolis - Arizona cornerback Trevin Wade
New Orleans - Iowa cornerback Shaun Prater
Jacksonville - SMU guard Josh LeRibeus
San Diego - Fresno State wide receiver Devon Wylie
Philadelphia - Arizona cornerback Trevin Wade
Buffalo - Fresno State wide receiver Devon Wylie and Laval University defensive end Arnaud Gascon-Nadon
Cleveland - Boise State defensive end Tyrone Crawford
Baltimore - USC defensive end DaJohn Harris and UCLA tight end Cory Harkey
@Mark C. I was going to point out to Walter that people can actually travel and most people attending games don't live within walking distance of the stadiums. A 4 or 5 hour drive to go see a game is absolutely nothing. It's only 8 regular season home games each season after all.