The afternoon practice had more media than in past days and there were many fans in attendance hoping to catch a glance of the future stars of the NFL. The positional coaches were intense. There was a great buzz outside the hedges of the field. A familiar face I saw watching linemen 1v1 drills was Jim Haslett. The talk of the Senior Bowl for the large part has been the play of tackle Michael Oher, so there was much anticipation on how he would follow up a very impressive Tuesday practice. Was he my South team MVP today? Read and find out:
A late addition for the day was Florida State receiver Greg Carr. I thought he struggled to accelerate quickly, but he displayed some really solid hands in red zone drills.
Not much to say on the quarterback front. Pat White by far is putting the best touch on the football of anyone here, but he overthrew many receivers today and is really losing his confidence. This doesn't hurt his stock because he is going to be a wide receiver in the NFL anyway. Cullen Harper made some nice throws, but his stock is staying in the gutter.
Michael Oher displayed phenomenal footwork yet and jaw-dropping athleticism again. He didn't have a perfect practice because he was beat a few times. Linebacker Clay Matthews bull rushed him to the ground; then on the next play, Oher handled his speed off the edge very impressively. I really don't understand why so many people don't like Oher.
I can't say the same for everyone else on the South team O-Line. Center Eric Wood struggled mightily today with speed off the edge from linemen such as Corvey Irvin and Peria Jerry.
Center Jonathan Luigs looked pitiful today and didn't seem to pick up his opponents' tendencies.
The bum of the week sadly has to go to Herman Johnson. Forget about his ability to play tackle in the NFL because he has looked dreadful at guard. Corvey Irvin really slapped him around a few times and Johnson isn't showing any fight or competitive attitude. His feet are sluggish and his draft stock is as colder than Skip Bayless' playoff picks.
Troy Kropog didn't show much aggressiveness and had trouble keeping his feet against Vance Walker. On one play, Walker simply overpowered him with a bull rush and threw him to the ground.
I was really impressed today with Antoine Caldwell, as he showed toughness and intelligence handling Vance Walker's swim move. Caldwell stayed low to the ground and showed impressive anticipation.
One lineman who is quickly making a name for himself is Hawaii defensive end David Veikune. He is giving all of the linemen fits this week because of his outstanding motor, array of pass rush moves, and short-area quickness. I am worried about his fit though because he is too small for 4-3 teams, and he looks really comfortable with his hand in the ground. I am not sure if he can pass rush standing up in the 3-4.
One player really shined today and generated a ton of buzz among virtually everyone I spoke with. My MVP for today's practice is N.C. State tailback Andre Brown. Brown was hitting the hole extremely hard today, displaying outstanding vision, and impressing the crowd when he juked Clay Matthews on a sweep. I really can't wait to watch some Wolfpack tape when I get home to see if I underrated Brown's play. He has no second gear, but he flashed some impressive talent and upside.
Rey Maualuga had a rough outing in yesterday's practice, but really impressed me against the run today. On a tailback lead over the left guard, he did a great job of instinctively going to his gap and filling quickly. He showed some range and had a big few hits.
After a great outing yesterday catching everything thrown his way, tight end Shawn Nelson dropped a few balls, two of which were extremely catchable. He had a great opportunity to prove yesterday wasn't a fluke, but he has NFL scouts scratching their heads.
One player who has flashed some great athleticism and speed is West Virginia defensive back Ellis Lankster. He has been impressive in press man coverage, but struggles at times and attempts too many arm tackles.
Troy defensive back Sherrod Martin blew up tailback Reshad Jennings and put him on the ground. This drew many laughs from the crowd as we all love to see big hits.
Maybe I am in the minority here, but I really thought linebacker Ashlee Palmer (Ole Miss) brought his A-game this afternoon. He was very active and showed great lateral agility today. Kudos to him.
Another "You got JACKED UP" moment was when USC linebacker Brian Cushing debacled Zona receiver Mike Thomas on a slant route. It was really fun to watch as Cushing laid his shoulder into him, stayed up on his feet, and stared down Thomas when he was on the ground, Ali style. Corvey Irvin and Robert Ayers were really fired up on that play, slapping Cushing on his helmet.
Overall, it was a really solid day, as players such as Peria Jerry, Michael Oher, Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews have been the players putting together very notable back-to back practices. Like I said, we can't sleep on Andre Brown because he was a man possessed with the football in his hand and running with authority.