The calendar has struck August, and with it came day two of fall camp.
Next Practice: Friday, August 2
Last Practice: Wednesday, July 31
NFL Scouts in attendance: Falcons
-Similar to Wednesday’s first practice, the same three players were in green non-contact jerseys: freshman defensive lineman Stephon Wright, redshirt freshman linebacker Stanley Lambert, and junior defensive lineman Shannon Forman.
-Wide receivers John Humphrey and Geordon Porter were also nursing strained hamstrings.
-Defensive lineman Tyler Johnson was limited in drills
-Out: Zach Robertson, meaning Cohl Cabral was still at left tackle and Jarrett Bell still took first team reps at center
What Went on
A 40-yard rainbow that was lofted over the secondary and directly into the hands of redshirt junior wide receiver Frank Darby for a touchdown.
That was the first play of 7-on-7’s, and the first ball that came out of the hands of freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels. Not a bad way to start the evening with the first team.
Once he crossed the goal line, Darby let out a yell: “I’m back, I’m back!”
“That’s what good quarterbacks do,” said head coach Herm Edwards of the throw. “Frank can run, and Jayden, he’s an accomplished player. Him and Joey did some good things tonight.”
As Edwards noted, both first-year quarterbacks looked sharp on Thursday. Yellen hit freshman tight end Nolan Matthews with a couple of throws, and he looked very calm in the pocket throughout the evening.
He even didn’t flinch when offensive coordinator Rob Likens called for a hurry up offense during 11-on-11’s and got right in Yellen’s ear, commanding to, “snap the ball!”
Yellen wasn’t rattled, and proceeded to drop off a nice pass right after the screaming in his ear.
At tight end, Matthews had a variety of receptions, and looked like he belonged with the first team. However, the player who has seemed to always come up with the ball the last couple of days is junior back Eno Benjamin. Just like Wednesday, he continued to pile up receptions out of the backfield.
Prior to practice, he was focusing on his hands, as he continued to do work with the jug machine. Edwards said that if he was coaching against his star tailback, he would load up the box against him. Thus, the team is looking for other ways to get him the ball in the open field.
“They are going to stack the box,” Edwards said. “The thought is, ‘How can we get you in space? How can we get you to the open side of the field catching a ball against a linebacker?’ That’s kind of what we are trying to do.”
In addition to the backfield, freshman “quarterback” Ethan Long took more reps at wide receiver after just a couple snaps on Wednesday. He received a heavier dose at wideout on Thursday, and during 7-on-7’s, Yellen targeted Long for a 15-yard slant over the middle, then in 11-on-11’s, Daniels dropped a pass to Long down the sideline.
Being that Long wears the No. 7, it was only fitting that Edwards compared him to New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill, who is another QB who can line up anywhere as a Swiss Army Knife. Once again, Edwards also didn’t rule out the possibility of putting Long on defense. But for now, he’s still an experiment at a variety of positions.
“You just got a find a spot for him. You find good athletes, and they can generally do a lot of things,” Edwards said. “That’s kind of fun when you have those kinds of guys on your roster.”
Among other highlights, redshirt junior quarterback Dillon Sterling-Cole took second team reps and looked good in 7-on-7’s. He did not miss a throw during that time period.
However, one of the most athletic plays on the night came from an interception out of the hands of Sterling-Cole. As he rolled to his right, he heaved a ball back across his body over the middle of the field.
With a 50-50 ball up for grabs between sophomore safety Aashari Crosswell and freshman wide receiver Ricky Pearsall, Crosswell leaped and came up with the pick.
There were no pads on Thursday, but they will be used soon. Overall, the night proved to be a productive one.
“I thought tonight, they kind of felt more comfortable,” Edwards said. “We will find out a lot when we start putting pads on...But I liked what I saw tonight.”
First Team Offense
QB: Jayden Daniels, Dillon Sterling-Cole
RB: Eno Benjamin
WR: Brandon Aiyuk, Frank Darby, Kyle Williams
TE: Tommy Hudson
OL: Cohl Cabral (LT), Alex Losoya (LG), Jarrett Bell (C), Cade Cote (RG), Steven Miller (RT)
DL: Jermayne Lole, D.J. Davidson, George Lea
LB: Khaylan Kearse-Thomas, Darien Butler, Merlin Robertson
CB: Chase Lucas, Kobe Williams
Tillman: Tyler Whiley
S: Aashari Crosswell, Cam Phillips
QB: Joey Yellen
RB: Isaiah Floyd
WR: Ryan Newsome, Ricky Pearsall, Angel Ruiz, Tannor Park, Jordan Kerley
TE: Jared Bubak, Nolan Matthews
OL: Ralph Frias (LT), Cody Shear (LG), Dohnovan West (C), Roy Hemsley (RG), Spencer Lovell (RT)
DL: Michael Matus, Roe Wilkins, Corey Stephens, T.J. Pesefea
LB: Case Hatch, Ely Doyle, Kyle Soelle
CB: Darien Cornay, Terin Adams, Jordan Clark
Tillman: Connor Soelle
S: Evan Fields, Willie Harts