Some observations from Tuesday morning’s practice:
Rookie DE Jarvis Jenkins’ play is commanding attention. He has been an animal so far, and even coach Mike Shanahan praised the second-round pick.
“I like him,” he said. “He’s quite impressive—320 pounds. He’s played the run. He’s played the pass. You can tell he’s got a big upside. You can tell he likes to work. All the things you look for in a guy, you can tell he has.”
Jenkins possesses a clear combination of power, strength and length. He explodes off the ball fast and low and uses his long arms (33 ¼ inch reach) to initiate contact. Jenkins ran through LG Kory Lichtensteiger during one-on-one pass blocking drills after placing his arms on The Steiger before he could engage.
At this point, though, Jenkins appears to be more of an asset stopping the run. He’s able to drive linemen back with his initial surge, which LT Trent Williams has experienced several times over the last couple of days. We’ll see if he can eventually develop some pass-rushing moves and not have to rely on brute strength so much in getting after the quarterback. Oddly enough, Jenkins’ 17 bench press reps at the scouting combine were the fewest of any defensive lineman.
One thing to watch during preseason games is how well Jenkins gets his body behind his arms. Because he’s so long, sometimes he’ll rush to get his hands on his blocker by overextending and getting outside his frame. Defensive line coach Jacob Burney harped on that recently. Jenkins, in particular, is much more effective when he gets his body weight behind his arms.
Still, it appears he has the tools to be a contributor in his rookie season. He was a bit under the radar at Clemson, largely because Da’Quan Bowers commanded the spotlight there. Jenkins already is off to a good start and getting noticed here.
QB John Beck’s potential has flashed at times, and he’s looked very poor at others. Today he bounced two passes while throwing across his body on bootlegs to his left. But he rebounded from that and put two deep outs in the perfect spots for his receivers on the right sideline. He completed one to WR Jabar Gaffney low and away from a closing CB DeAngelo Hall.
Besides the inconsistency, another negative trend worth monitoring is how Beck does not always position his receivers to gain yards after the catch. In an undefended passing drill, he completed a dump-off over the middle to the running back’s trailing shoulder, forcing him to slow down and turn. Beck later connected with rookie WR Niles Paul on a deep ball down the left sideline. Paul adjusted beautifully to the ball over his outside shoulder and made the catch for a long gain. But if the throw had been out in front of him, it could’ve gone for a touchdown.
WR Anthony Armstrong followed up his drop of a deep ball Monday with a horrible drop during undefended offensive work on Tuesday. Beck threw him the ball between the numbers on an intermediate cross, and Armstrong simply put it on the ground.
“That’s why you practice,” Shanahan said. “You miss 14-17 OTA days and come back, it takes a while to get into the grove, the concentration level, get back to football shape.”
Fair enough. Armstrong responded well to his drop, though. He and Beck later connected on several deeper completions and an intermediate slant that beat a blitz.
Lorenzo Alexander is experiencing growing pains at inside linebacker, as you’d expect. On one play early in team drills, he was fooled by play action and didn’t drop. Beck easily found WR Malcolm Kelly deep down the left seam. Alexander and ILB Perry Riley exchanged words after the play. Later, he ran the wrong way in pass coverage, leaving TE Mike Sellers wide open for a catch. Alexander has conquered position changes before, so there’s no reason to believe the mental aspects of his new position will escape him. Just another casualty of the lost offseason.
FB Darrel Young demonstrated fine awareness on a running play when he blocked LB Kyle O’Donnell on the backside. Young was running straight toward the line of scrimmage when O’Donnell turned the left edge and came down the line. Young peeled off his path at the last moment to seal the running lane. Such plays are what will convince coaches that he’s ready for an expanded role.
RB Ryan Torain stuck his nose into the pass rush early in 11-on-11 drills and picked up a blitzer. Pass protection was not his strong suit last season. Granted, Torain’s read wasn’t difficult on this particular rush up the middle, but he at least squared up and kept the linebacker off of the quarterback.
Strength is supposed to be C Will Montgomery’s biggest asset, but he was overpowered twice while I was watching him. Undrafted DT Thomas Weaver got under his pads during one-on-one pass protection drills and got through him. NT Anthony Bryant later collapsed the pocked during 11-on-11 work by pushing Montgomery back. Neither of those two defensive linemen are projected first-stringers, so just imagine what Dallas’ Jay Ratliff would do.
Offensive line coach Chris Foerster spoke Monday about how the athletic linemen Shanahan likes ultimately have to anchor no matter how light or quick they are. Well, that applied to Montgomery on Tuesday. I wrote for Tuesday’s paper a story about how the Redskins are counting on familiarity and continuity to result in improved offensive line play. I’m skeptical. The quality depth isn’t there. Second-year lineman Erik Cook can back up at center or guard, but Selvish Capers’ feet have appeared too slow to fill the swing tackle spot. For me, there still are tons of questions up front.
Along those lines, coaches gave seventh-round pick Maurice Hurt a look at left tackle, and…um…it didn’t go so well. Fellow seventh-rounder Markus White blew around him twice in a row with a swim move during one-on-one drills. Hurt’s feet were way to slow to protect the edge, and he struggled to recover inside on stunts. I’d be surprised if that experiment lasted much longer.
WR Malcolm Kelly is getting in and out of his breaks well and running smoothly. He separated from one of the undrafted free-agent cornerbacks during team drills and caught an out near the left sideline. Kelly ultimately will have to do it against better competition, but he has started camp well simply by being on the field. Late in the practice, he failed to sustain a run block, and his defender made the play near the right sideline.
ILB London Fletcher stripped TE Logan Paulsen of the ball after the catch during team drills late in the morning. Paulsen did catch a touchdown last season, but he doesn’t have the hands to be a consistent threat the in the passing game. Blocking is his specialty.