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This is Charlie Campbell's Wednesday 2012 Senior Bowl Practice Report (North). Charlie is reporting live from Mobile, Ala., and he'll describe what he sees at practice and whom certain prospects talk to all week.
The North team took to the field of Ladd Peebles Stadium for their third practice of Senior Bowl on Wednesday morning. The Minnesota Vikings coaching staff was in charge of the North team and they had the players practicing in full pads. Tuesday and Wednesday are the full-padded sessions. To start out practice they worked on special teams and in their individual position groups.
The linebackers received some expert coaching from Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary. Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David has very quick feet, but Singletary was riding him not to be too high in his upper body and maintain a better body lean. Singletary had a lot of praise for Boise State outside linebacker Shea McClellin. Nevada linebacker James-Michael Johnson looked bad in the bag work. Singletary made him start over numerous times because Johnson's footwork and body lean were sloppy. Johnson seemed to be frustrating Singletary.
Shortly later, the linebackers, safeties, tight ends and running backs battled in a one-on-one pass defense scrimmage. Wisconsin fullback Bradie Ewing started the session strong by burning Johnson. Ewing ran a slant and than cut out across the field. Overall, Johnson looks rather stiff and probably should play on the inside of a 3-4 defense. David had tight coverage on Cincinnati running back Isaiah Pead to force an incompletion.
Boise State running back Doug Martin had a solid practice. In the one-on-ones he burned college teammate McClellin on a corner post route. Martin ran a deep post to get separation on North Carolina State linebacker Audie Cole for another catch.
One running back that wasn't getting much separation was Washington's Chris Polk. He was covered closely by Utah State's Bobby Wagner on a few reps. Polk has been unimpressive this week and his stock could take a dip as a result.
Michigan State tight end Brian Linthicum had a nice win over Penn State defensive back D'Anton Lynn. Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith stayed stride for stride with Missouri tight end Michael Egnew. Massachusetts tight end Emil Igwenagu burned Boise State safety George Iloka on a slant route. Igwenagu followed that up with a nice one-handed catch during the install session.
The wide receivers and cornerbacks had another one-on-one session on one part of the field while a nine-on-nine run scrimmage was held on the other side. Half of this practice period was a different kind of one-on-one. On Wednesday they had the cornerbacks and wide receivers going against each other in blocks as if there was a perimeter run.
One receiver who had an impressive day was Iowa's Marvin McNutt. He won his first receiving rep by beating Oklahoma cornerback Jamell Fleming on a dig route. Fleming got some revenge by getting by a block from McNutt later on, but the big wideout played well in the team scrimmage.
Boston College cornerback Donnie Fletcher played well and he stood out on Wednesday. He's had a strong Senior Bowl overall. Fletcher had a nice jam on a route from Ohio State's DeVier Posey. Fletcher stayed with Posey as he ran his route and slapped the ball away for an incompletion. Fletcher showed real strength and physicality in the run defense portion. He blasted Arizona State wide receiver Gerell Robinson in two reps. The second one saw Fletcher knock Robinson to the ground to defeat the block.
Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard had a mixed performance. He looked bad in trailing a pass route from Cal receiver Marvin Jones. Dennard didn't turn and run well with Jones. Downfield Dennard lost his feet and fell down to let Jones get wide open. In run blocking, Dennard came back to beat two blocks from Posey. Jones lost a block to Iowa State's Leonard Johnson, but out-muscled Johnson for a reception in the pass-receiving portion.
The defensive line and offensive lines battled in one-on-ones, and there are definitely some prospects that are really helping themselves. The defensive line has a bigger advantage in this drill because they don't have to play the run before rushing the passer like they do in many plays in an actual game. They also don't take on any double teams or have to overcome a chip from a running back or tight end. Here is a scorecard of some of the one-on-one action:
One of the standouts for the North has been Connecticut defensive tackle Kendall Reyes. He beat Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler with a speed rush and as he shoved Zeitler away he popped the guard's helmet off. Reyes bull rushed through Washington left tackle Senio Kelemete. On a speed rush, Reyes burned Penn State guard Johnnie Troutman. Troutman was on his heels so much that he stumbled and fell flat on his a**.
Washington defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu had a solid day on Wednesday. He bull rushed through Ohio State center Mike Brewster for a win. Brewster got some revenge by riding Ta'amu around the pocket on a rematch. Ta'amu showed some speed when he rocked Troutman off the snap and ran by the off-balanced lineman. In a rematch, Ta'amu beat Troutman again. Ta'amu started with a bull rush and then executed a spin move that caught Troutman by surprise, and Ta'amu jetted to the quarterback marker.
Michigan defensive tackle Mike Martin had a big day Tuesday, but did not do as well on Wednesday. Utah guard Tony Bergstrom stood Martin straight up on a bull rush. Martin won the rematch with a speed rush to the outside shoulder of Bergstrom. Martin used a speed rush and a swim move to get by Wake Forest offensive lineman Joe Looney.
One of the stars of Wednesday's practice was Virginia defensive end Cam Johnson. He blasted by Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams to cause a tackle in the nine-on-nine scrimmage, and Johnson kept up the heat in the one-on-ones. He beat Adams on a speed rush. Adams tried to grab Johnson, but he was tossed aside as Johnson coasted to the marker. Adams won a rep against Johnson when he stuffed a bull rush.
Adams once again had some reps where he looked great followed by others where he was terrible. One win came against Marshall's Vinny Curry. At left tackle, Adams got a hold of Curry on an edge rush and kept him out of the pocket. At right tackle, Curry fired off the snap with speed off the edge. He sunk his hips and got skinny to get leverage on Adams. The big tackle couldn't do the same as Curry reached the marker with Adams falling onto the ground at the spot of the quarterback.
Curry exploited a couple of mismatches when he lined up at defensive tackle. He beat Bergstrom and Zeitler. Zeitler had no answer for Curry's speed as he raced by him with a swim move. Zeitler also lost on a speed rush to Boise State defensive tackle Billy Winn. It was an ugly rep for Zeitler.
Cincinnati defensive tackle/end Derek Wolfe was ridden around the pocket by Brewster on one rep. Wolfe beat Cal offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz with a speed rush around the corner.
Iowa State offensive tackle/guard Kelechi Osemele had a good practice. He put Winn into the ground with a near pancake block. Osemele also mirrored a speed rush from Penn State defensive end Jack Crawford.
In the 11-on-11 team scrimmage, the offensive line had some better plays. Zeitler and Schwartz combined on the right side of the line to blast open a big hole for Boise State running back Doug Martin. Zeitler also had a pancake block later.
Reyes kept charging through the line and forced a big tackle for a loss. Wolfe had a sack of Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson on a bootleg. Wolfe made a good read and fired into the backfield to tap Wilson's pads before running by him. Curry had a nice rush where he blew by Adams to flush the quarterback out of the pocket. Lavonte David also had a tackle for a loss after he fired into the backfield on a play. Johnson beat Adams for a probable sack on a speed rush. Ta'amu had some good plays and was disruptive.
Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore hit McNutt on a deep out after he beat Fleming to get open. On another play Moore had Ewing running wide open after Michigan State safety Trenton Robinson lost track of his man. The pass was horribly thrown and sailed incomplete. Moore also had a fumbled snap in shotgun. McNutt worked his way through zone coverage to make a big gain on a pass from Michigan State's Kirk Cousins.