And then there’s the disadvantage at which all rookies are operating. They missed organized team activities and minicamps because of the lockout.
“Sometimes I have a tendency to look backside when I shouldn’t be,” Neild said. “It’s little habits like that that have been corrupting my play a little bit. But once I get those college habits out of the way, I’ll be fine.”
The question, though, is whether it’s too late.
Thompson considered the condensed evaluation period before he took the field Tuesday for the final full practice of the preseason.
“In some ways it was a disadvantage, but at the end of the day, what can you do?” he said. “You’ve got to get your head in the playbook and make up for lost time. I think as camp has gone on I’ve been able to understand the defense better.”
That has showed in his play. Thompson is in serious contention for a roster spot because of his speed and awareness. In addition to his interception against Indianapolis on Aug. 19, he ran stride-for-stride with Baltimore deep threat Lee Evans on a long incompletion last week.
He has one more chance to shine. Then it’s up to Shanahan and his staff, who have less evidence on which to base decisions than in previous seasons.
“I think it’s tougher on the evaluation,” Shanahan said. “Now you’ve got to make a decision on where they’re going to be in two months before you get a chance to see it. There’s going to be a lot more guessing going on than there has been in the past.”