Offensive Practice Notes: 8-6

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    Marcus Jackson-1

    Some notes and observations from the offensive side of the ball from the open portion of practice on Thursday night.

    One-on-ones: With the “shell” pads on, we got our first taste of some semi-live drills. Butch Jones started practice off with some one-on-ones between receivers and defensive backs, offensive and defensive linemen and he also put the team through the famous Circle of Life drill, where the team circles around two players who try to knock each other out of the makeshift ring.

    WRs vs. DBs

    The defense won all three reps here, though it had some help from the offense. Josh Malone seemed to beat Justin Martin for the touchdown on the drill that started from inside the 5-yard line, but Malone couldn’t haul in the overthrown pass from Joshua Dobbs. Micah Abernathy had decent coverage on Jauan Jennings in the second rep and Quinten Dormady’s pass ended up hitting him right in the back for the incompletion. Dobbs then overthrew Marquez North on the final rep with the defense coming from Rashaan Gaulden.

    Circle of Life

    It was extremely difficult to see this drill well because the team circles up around it, but there were a few reps that we caught a glimpse of.

    • Charles Mosley and Kahlil McKenzie led it off. It was hard to tell who got the upper-hand, but one thing is clear – the ground below them was the loser.

    • Offensive tackle Drew Richmond appeared to get the best of defensive end Darrell Taylor. That makes sense with an 80-ish pound weight difference there.

    • Tight end A.J. Branisel had a solid rep against linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr., Chance Hall also was strong against Corey Vereen and little brother Micah Abernathy got the best of his big brother Ralph David Abernathy IV.

    • But the best rep, from the offensive perspective, was from Jauan Jennings, who owned Justin Martin in the Circle of Life, easily driving him out of the circle, sending the offensive players into a celebration. Jennings also made an extremely nice, twisting catch in a receiving drill later in practice. He was one of the most impressive players I saw today in the open portion on this side of the ball.

    Pass-rushing drills

    Some of these were close and a bit subjective as to who the winner was, but this is how I judged them in the one-on-one pass-rushing scenario.

    • Derek Barnett got the best of Dontavius Blair, who also looked to commit a false start penalty before the rep

    • I don’t know that he would’ve given up a sack, but Marcus Jackson got blown up by Shy Tuttle and ended up on the ground (see the defensive notes/video for more on that)

    • Mack Crowder seemed to get the best of Danny O’Brien, though the defense was calling for holding

    • Brett Kendrick got the best of Corey Vereen

    • Dimarya Mixon beat Chance Hall

    • In what will probably be the story of the day, Kahlil McKenzie destroyed Austin Sanders (again, see video/defensive notes)

    • Jack Jones had a solid rep against Kyle Phillips

    • Shy Tuttle went again and appeared to get the best of Coleman Thomas this time

    • Drew Richmond beat Darrell Taylor, who ended up on the ground, but may have slipped a bit coming around the edge

    Other notes/thoughts: 

    • I thought receiver Josh Smith looked really good on Thursday. He never looked completely healthy to me in the spring, and seems to have some of his energy and enthusiasm back. He made a couple nice catches Wednesday and looked crisp in the process.

    • Absences/held out: Preston Williams, Von Pearson, Jashon Robertson, Jason Croom

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