Yesterday's evening practice is always one of the highlights of training camp because the team moves to Lumberjack Stadium and it's under the lights. These practices are always the most physical sessions during camp and full 11-on-11 goal line drill is a fan favorite for that very reason. Last night was certainly no exception as the final portion of practice consisted of seven plays in which the offense started at the three yard line or closer and attempted to punch one in for six. Of the seven plays, the offense ran six running plays and one pass, but managed just a single touchdown (a sweep by Jason Wright). Even the lone touchdown was up for debate but Ken Whisenhunt over ruled the defense.
The downer of the night is that injuries are starting to pile up as two more players were added to an already crowded sidelines. Defensive end Jason Banks missed part of the morning practice and the entire evening practice with a bad knee and another defensive end Keilen Dykes not only missed the evening practice, but also wasn't working out on the sidelines with the other 'walking wounded.' We should know more about the injury today (Whiz didn't meet with the media after practice) but some are hinting that it could be a significant injury. New defensive coordinator Bill Davis has been praising Dykes all off season and many expected Dykes to not only make the roster but become a solid member of the defensive line rotation so losing him would hurt.
Other random observations from yesterday:
- We haven't mentioned Darnell Dockett (he wants to be called "NINE-0" now) but he's having a great camp and several reports are saying that he's in the best shape of his life. He's been unblockable at times during one-on-one drills with the offensive line and he made a nice play during last night's goal line session when he shot into the backfield and blew up a Tim Hightower run.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie continues to impress and just about every practice report includes some mention of him making a nice interception or breaking up a deep pass. His partner in crime, Bryant McFadden also returned to practice yesterday.
- After three straight press conferences talking about his hip, Kurt Warner was visibly unhappy about addressing the status of his rehabbing hip again yesterday. He has spent extra time stretching before practice but he still lists himself at 85%.
- We heard over the summer that one of Chris Miller's (QB coach) goals was to improve Matt Leinart's footwork and so far the results have been favorable. Leinart's passes have had much more zip on them than in year's past and it's also made him a more accurate passer. Several reports list Leinart as having the best camp of his young career and that he's shown improvement in every area, including standing in the pocket against a pass rush.
- With all of the hoopla over Chris Wells, we have mentioned Tim Hightower very much but his trimmed down physique has made him more explosive. His top end speed won't ever be 'home run worthy' but his short area quickness has noticably improved.
- Rookie guard/centre Ben Claxton made his first notable appearance of camp when he got into a near altercation with several defenders but the scrum was broken up quickly.
- For an injury update, Beanie is expected to return to practice next week and is (at least for now) expected to play in the preseason opener against the Steelers. Early Doucet however is not expected to return as quickly and is not expected to suit up. There hasn't been much reported on Chike Okeafor's back issue but he was out of practice again yesterday so we'll try and get some information on him. The other two guys Anthony Becht and Dan Kreider both have hamstring issues but niether is expected to be serious.