By Michael J. Thomas
As always, the team spent about 20 minutes on their individual drills and then stretching. Then they did some 1-on-1 drills. I took some notes from the plays that stood out to me. Scott Chandler made a great catch in the middle of the field for a 15-yard gain on a pass from EJ Manuel. Jeff Tuel continued to impress me with his deep balls when he floated a pass downfield to Mike Williams who caught it in stride for about 40-yards. EJ Manuel then threw a beautiful touch pass to Marcus Easley that he took for the 50-yard touchdown. He then threw a pass to Chris Summers who caught it, but Ross Cockrell knocked it out of his hands. Thad Lewis then threw an ugly pass that was intercepted by Corey Graham. Tuel then threw a pass to Tori Gurley who made a nice catch along the sideline. Thad Lewis then came in and recovered for his earlier interception by throwing a pretty looking 50-yard touchdown pass to TJ Graham. But the one catch that impressed me the most was Sammy Watkins. He stopped on a dime and faked the DB, caught the pass and kept running. The crowd gave him a big cheer for it.
Following the 1-on-1's, the team actually skipped the 7-on-7 drill and went right into the 11-on-11. EJ Manuel started right off the bat by finding Sammy Watkins who made a nice leaping grab on a deep ball and gained about 45-yards. CJ Spiller then got his chance and ran up the middle for 2-yards. The defense was stout in the middle. He then tried again and only gained a few yards. EJ Manuel then had no one open and felt the pressure, so he tucked the ball and ran with it for a gain of 12. Anthony Dixon came in next and pounded right up the middle for 7-yards. Jeff Tuel came in for the backup reps and handed it off to Dixon who gained 5-yards. Tuel then threw a nice screen to Marquise Goodwin who gained 9-yards. He then kept the ball and ran for a short gain. Tuel then threw a pass to an open receiver, but Duke Williams got his hand on the ball and broke it up. On the final play of the series, Ronnie Wingo got the ball and ran around the right tackle for 6-yards. EJ Manuel came back in and hit Robert Woods for 8-yards. Fred Jackson then got his first carry and ran to the outside and gained 4-yards. He tried again and this time took the ball around the right tackle for 10-yards. EJ Manuel finished the series off with a pass to Sammy Watkins, but Michael Carter held him so the ball went incomplete. He knew he got beat, so he grabbed his jersey and drew the penalty and angered his coach. Thad Lewis then came in and overthrew TJ Graham. Bryce Brown got the ball next, but he was stopped for a short loss for Brandon Spikes. He then tried again and gained about 2-yards. Lewis then threw a pass to Marcus Easley for 16-yards. On the final play of the series, Thad Lewis scrambles for 3-yards after feeling the pressure.
The horn then blew and it was time for some special teams drills. They worked on kickoffs and this time both Dan Carpenter and Dustin Hopkins were kicking the ball. Hopkins was consistently crushing the ball, 70-75 yards down the field and out of the end zone or into the back corner of the end zone. Carpenter had a couple decent ones, but there was a noticeable difference as he was kicking to the 5-yard line. On the positive side, his kickoffs allowed the returners to have a chance to practice. Marquise Goodwin, CJ Spiller and Sammy Watkins all got a chance to return kicks and Goodwin was the best. He exploded out of the end zone several times on his returns.
Following the special teams drills, the team worked on 9-on-9 passing drills. EJ Manuel started it right off with a pass to his favorite receiver, Sammy Watkins for 5-yards. On the next play, Manuel would have been sacked by Marcell Dareus who was roaming in the backfield. He then overthrew Robert Woods. Thad Lewis came in and threw a pass to Marcus Easley in the middle of the field for 8-yards. He then dumped the ball off to Ronnie Wingo for 6-yards. On the final play of the series, Lewis threw an 8-yard pass to CJ Spiller. Dennis Dixon then came in and connected with Tori Gurley for 7-yards and 6-yards. EJ Manuel came back on the field and threw at Frank Summer's feet. He then threw a screen to Bryce Brown for 3-yards. On the final play of the series, Manuel connected with Watkins for 16-yards. Jeff Tuel came in next and threw a pass to Caleb Holley, but the ball was deflected in the air and Kamaal McIlwain made a great play and intercepted it. Tuel then dumped the ball off to Anthony Dixon who was met instantly and wrapped up by Ross Cockrell. On the next play, Tuel would have been sacked by newly signed Landon Cohen.
After the 9-on-9 drill was over, the team went to work on more 11-on-11. EJ Manuel started it off by overthrowing Sammy Watkins. He then went right back to Watkins for 5-yards. On the next play, Manuel threw an pass that was deflected by Keith Rivers and intercepted by Nickell Robey. Bryce Brown then ran up the middle for 7-yards. Anthony Dixon got the ball next and ran up the middle for a short gain. On the next play, Jeff Tuel felt some pressure and probably would have been sacked from the defensive line, including Landon Cohen. Tuel then threw a pass to Marcus Easley, who made a nice leaping grab and gained 8-yards. He followed that with a pass to Anthony Dixon for 13-yards. Ronnie Wingo then carried the ball and ran around the right side for 3-yards. On the next play, Tuel was chased out of the pocket by Jacquies Smith and ran for a short gain. EJ Manuel came back in and felt major pressure from Jimmy Gaines, so he threw it away. Manuel then dumped the ball off to Fred Jackson for 2-yards. On the next play, Manuel found Frank Summers, who dropped the ball and also the f-bomb. EJ Manuel then kept the ball and gained 4-yards. On the final play of the drill, Manuel found Scott Chandler for a nice 28-yard gain.
Back to special teams work. The team uses this time to also give their players a little breather for 5-minutes or so while they explain the blocking assignments and get ready for field goal practice. Dan Carpenter was again perfect on all his field goals, 6-6 with a long of 51-yards. He also kicked several of them way up onto the lift where the camera man is filming. The crowd enjoyed it, but something tells me that camera man did not. Following the field goals, the team spent time on kickoff coverage and blocking assignments. The coaches had the kick returners receive kicks from the jugs machine, while the kickers rested their foot after making several kickoffs earlier in practice.
Following the special teams drill, the team went back to work on 11-on-11. CJ Spiller started it off with a nice run around the right tackle for 6-yards. On the next play, EJ Manuel had no one open, so he ran with the ball for 5-yards. Spiller got another carry and this time was met behind the line by Jerry Hughes. Manuel then tried another pass, but this time had his pass batted down by Mario Williams. On the next play, Mario Williams flew into the backfield and would have had the sack. Thad Lewis entered the field and connected with Chris Hogan, who was hit immediately by Jonathan Meeks for a short gain. On the next play, Lewis thought he had Bryce Brown open, but almost had the ball picked off by Mario Butler. He then tried another pass, but had a lot of pressure coming from Landon Cohen and threw it away. EJ Manuel then came back in and tried a fake handoff, but it was sniffed out immediately by Manny Lawson for a short loss. Bryce Brown then ran up the middle for 2-yards. On the next play, Fred Jackson looked like he was going to be stopped behind the line, but he made a nice cut and gained 8-yards. EJ Manuel then thought he had Sammy Watkins for a big gain, but Ross Cockrell knocked the ball loose to force the incompletion. Fred Jackson then pounded the ball up the middle for 8-yards. Dennis Dixon came onto the field and threw a screen to Caleb Holley, who was tackled at the line by Ross Cockrell for no gain. Ronnie Wingo got the ball next, but was stopped behind the line by Nigel Bradham. Dixon then threw a pass to TJ Graham for 6-yards and was immediately wrapped up by Derek Brim. He then threw a screen to Wingo for 5-yards. On the final play of the series, Ronnie Wingo ran around the left tackle for 7-yards.
EJ Manuel returned the field and connected with Scott Chandler for 9-yards, while facing some nice pressure from Jerry Hughes. CJ Spiller then ran up the middle for 4-yards. On the next play, Manuel threw a 7-yard pass to Robert Woods who was hit hard by Da'Norris Searcy. Anthony Dixon then ran up the middle for 4-yards. EJ Manuel then threw a nice looking 40-yard pass to Robert Woods, but he tried to one hand it and dropped it. Jeff Tuel came onto the field and overthrew Marcus Easley. He then tucked the ball and ran with it for 5-yards. The offensive line then drew a false start penalty. Bryce Brown got the ball next and was stopped for a short loss by Ross Cockrell. Tuel badly overthrew the next pass and was intercepted by Duke Williams. EJ Manuel came back in with the starters and dumped the ball off to CJ Spiller for 5-yards. On the next play, Manuel appeared to have a miscommunication with Mike Williams as the ball fell where no one was. He then connected with Robert Woods for 16-yards. Anthony Dixon then showed off some nifty footwork and gained 11-yards. On the final play of the drill, Manuel connected with his favorite target, Sammy Watkins, for 5-yards.
For the final drill of the day, the team worked at the 5-yard line and worked on 7-on-7 goal line drills. EJ Manuel started it off with a nice pass to Mike Williams for the touchdown. On the next play, Manuel had no one open, so he tucked the ball and ran for 3-yards before going out of bounds. He then threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Chris Hogan who made a nice catch in the middle of the end zone. Manuel then went back to Hogan, but he couldn't get his feet in bounds and the pass was ruled incomplete by the referees. Jeff Tuel came onto the field and thought he had Kevin Elliott, but he didn't get his feet in bounds. On the next play, Tuel ran with the ball for the 5-yard touchdown. He then threw a pass to Elliott, but he dropped the ball. On the final play of the series, Tuel threw to Elliott again, but the pass was broken up by Kamaal McIlwain who made a nice play.
1. Welcome Back, Marcell Dareus! It was nice to see him cheering and high fiving the players. He looked happy to be back out there and looked his old self when he flew by Erik Pears a few times during the team work. He also spend a while signing autographs for the fans, which they all appreciated.
2. My player of the day is going to be Sammy Watkins until someone can shut him down. He's catching everything, until today when he dropped that one after Ross Cockrell broke it up. But he still caught everything else and is bailing out EJ Manuel several times each day on poorly thrown balls that he still manages to catch.
3. Ross Cockrell did an excellent job out there filling in for Leodis McKelvin and if he keeps this up, he may earn even more reps. I noticed him several times throughout the night, tackling the running backs behind the line and also did a good job covering his receivers. He even got Sammy Watkins to drop his first pass in camp, when he stuck his hand in there and knocked the ball out during one play in the 11-on-11 drills.
4. The backup Quarterback competition is interesting. I really thought Thad Lewis would step up. But it appears he doesn't want the job. He's looked terrible in the passing drills and the team 11-on-11 drills. Jeff Tuel hasn't done much better, but he still looks like he wants it more. I'm impressed with Tuel's long ball too. He's shown some nice touch on it.
5. Props to Marcell Dareus, Sammy Watkins, Dan Carpenter, Ross Cockrell and several others who spent a lot of time signing autographs for the fans. It's always nice to see the players interacting with the fans after working hard for over 2 and half hours in practice.
Overall, it was another great day at St. John Fisher College. The weather was perfect and the atmosphere was pretty nice too. The stands were packed and the fans all appeared to be enjoying themselves. It was also nice to see Marcell Dareus return to the field. I can see him having another great year in this defense. I can't wait to see Dareus and Jerry Hughes harassing quarterbacks all year long.
Photos are located here... http://s159.photobuc...ay Night?page=1
Edited by Mike32282, 26 July 2014 - 10:15 AM.