Today’s 2022 Senior Bowl practice was moved into the South Alabama indoor facility due to the threat of inclement weather. The irony of this was that yesterday they practiced outdoors in more rain than what fell today while practicing indoors.
Unfortunately, the practice was limited to only NFL personnel and Senior Bowl broadcast partners. Luckily, as I will be the color analyst on the radio broadcast for the game on Saturday, I qualified as a broadcast partner.
So, let’s look at the notebook from today’s two practices.
NATIONAL TEAM PRACTICE
Ohio State TE Jeremy Ruckert suffered a foot injury in yesterday’s practice and has been ruled out for the week. There was some initial confusion as Ruckert dressed out for practice but he did not participate. He was replaced on the roster by Boston College TE Trae Barry.
The Jets team practice started with some kickoff coverage drills. Wyoming LB Chad Muma and Christian Watson (WR/North Dakota State) looked explosive in those drills.
Miami (OH) safety Sterling Weatherford has exclusively played at linebacker during the entire week. He looks smooth out there and seems to be taking to coaching well.
I watched a little bit of the punt coverage drills today. Gregory Junior (CB/Ouchita Baptist) looked good as a jammer while Coby Bryant (CB/Cincinnati) had a great release as a gunner.
Iowa State kicker Andrew Mevis missed two field goals that were NFL extra point distance during practice. Make of that what you will.
I was watching a little bit of the OL/DL 1-on-1 drills today. During a rep with Michigan’s Andrew Steuber, Haskell Garrett (DL/Ohio State) went down clutching his shoulder. He didn’t return to practice and I would assume he will not play on Saturday.
Logan Hall (DL/Houston) continued his dominant week of practice. He beat Southern guard Ja’Tyre Carter on consecutive attempts. UConn DL Travis Jones is another you can put in the money made category for the week. Jones’ power was again on full display.
Trevor Penning (OT/Northern Iowa) hasn’t been the most technically sound throughout the week but every offensive line coach will want his temperament on their roster. Penning has been playing through the whistle on every rep and doesn’t appear to care for Tyreke Smith (EDGE/Ohio State). Yesterday Penning threw him into the goal post after a rep and today he buried him into the turf.
Zion Johnson (Boston College) continued to look good at center. He also stayed after practice again working on his snaps. This was the third day in a row.
One of the bigger disappointments for me this week has been the play of Bernhard Raimann (OT/Central Michigan). Raimann has a flawed technique and has essentially been caught in the bear hug position way too often as he did in a rep with Arnold Ebiketie (EDGE/Penn State).
Nicholas Zakelj (OL/Fordham) played tackle for the Rams but has kicked inside to guard all week. He has been up and down this week but he had a nice win against Myjai Sanders (EDGE/Cincinnati).
OTHER OFFENSE NOTES
Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder short-hopped a few passes that I saw. He was the third-best QB I saw throwing the football today.
Jerome Ford (RB/Cincinnati) made himself skinny getting through the hole during the 9-on-7 drill.
Christian Watson had a nice catch on a back-shoulder throw from Carson Strong (QB/Nevada). He made a great adjustment to the football.
Missouri RB Tyler Badie showed off his explosion after catching a screen pass. Kenny Pickett (QB/Pittsburgh) completed a TD in the red zone to Khalil Shakir (WR/Boise State). After a shaky first day, Shakir has bounced back with two really strong days of practice.
During 7-on-7, on a three-play series, Kenny Pickett was high on an out route, threw a pass that was tipped and intercepted by Kerby Joseph (S/Illinois), and then concluded with a bullet to Khalil Shakir for a TD. After that, Pickett connected with Trae Barry in the back of the endzone.
Carson Strong continued to show his connection with Rome Doubs was special. The best plays from Strong all week seemingly came when targeting Doubs.
AMERICAN TEAM PRACTICE
Two RBs, ZaQuandre White (South Carolina) and D’Vonte Price (FIU) were both out of practice today and will be done for the week. Clemson CB Mario Goodrich is also out. Sam Houston State WR Jaquezz Ezzard and Utah RB T.J. Pledger were both added to the roster.
After the usual 30 minutes of helmetless stretching that has become the norm for the Lions coaching staff practice, we got a little work on some passing drills.
The 2022 Senior Bowl newcomer Ezzard beat Leon O’Neal (S/Texas A&M) on a deep ball after making a great adjustment to an underthrown ball from Bailey Zappe (QB/Western Kentucky). Ezzard has been eye-opening with his separation ability.
Calvin Austin (WR/Memphis) had a couple of steps on Kentucky safety Yusuf Corker but Zappe overthrew the ball. I know Austin is small (5’7” 173) but he is silky smooth as a route runner and he catches everything. Josh Thompson (CB/Texas) never had a chance in the reps he had against Austin.
Drops were an issue today, noticeably by Dontario Drummond (WR/Mississippi). Jalen Tolbert (WR/South Alabama) has been inconsistent during the week. On one rep against Alontae Taylor (CB/Tennessee) he got flagged for OPI. Later he ran a bad route against Cam Taylor Britt (CB/Nebraska) and then lost another rep to Toledo safety Tycen Anderson.
UTSA Tariq Woolen has all the tools you want. He has speed, size, and length. His technique is still a bit flawed and he needs to do a better job of locating the football.
Velus Jones made Derion Kendrick (CB/Georgia) fall down with his great route.
Malik Willis (QB/Liberty) threw a simple pass to Dameon Pierce (RB/Florida) that he dropped. It was the only bad play I saw from Pierce all week. Willis then threw a bullet to Jalen Tolbert across the middle and followed that by smoking the ball to Daniel Bellinger.
During the team drills, Willis outran everyone to the corner for a 10-yard score. Colorado State TE Trey McBride made a nice sliding grab for a TD on a pass from Howell.
On Saturday, I will have a game recap up right after the game. On Sunday, Shane will go more in-depth with his recap of the game.