CanadianPanther suggested that I make a fanpost out of my comment from the open thread so more people could see it. So....here are my thoughts from the Aug 2nd Training Camp practice.
First off, while I am no professional talent evaluator, I thought Cam looked good overall last night. He had a bad INT early in practice (maybe 30-45 minutes in, pretty soon after they got done stretching) when he overthrew his WR (couldn’t see who it was, I think it was Murphy) by a mile.
However, after he settled in and warmed up, he looked poised and in control. IIRC he only had 2 INTs during the entire practice. He was planting his feet and driving through his passes. He had a noticeable zip on the ball, and looked poised in the pocket (though the defense obviously wasn’t going 100%). There were a few times when he threw off of his back foot, however those occurred when he was under heavy pressure and wasn’t able to plant and throw without giving up the sack.
However, these passes were by and large accurate as well (one 15-20 yard pass to Smith off his back foot was right on the money). Obviously, there are going to be times this year when he won't be able to plant and throw, so having accuracy under these circumstances is key. He had a great night with Olsen, as well as Smitty (of course).
They didn’t run very many called QB rushing plays (that I remember), only calling a few sneaks all night. I don’t think they ran the option even once, but I may have missed a few plays while typing on my phone. He also threaded a nice ball to Seyi who was covered by two defenders right after he made a perfect pass to Smitty hugging the sideline. I was impressed with Newton.
More, including some Debbie Downers, after the jump...
Now for the downers…It was not a great night, overall, for our receiving corp. Many of the drops came from guys who either aren’t going to make the team anyway (Brinston Bernstin or whatever, whoever the eff that is) or are backups (Barnidge). However, a drop is a drop, and there were plenty of them.
I’ve never been on the Barnidge bandwagon simply because I hadn’t seen enough of his play, and after last night I’m not even close to jumping on it. He had a couple of drops on perfectly catchable passes from both Cam and Anderson. He looked to be slow and a sub-par route runner, even when considering that he is a TE. Overall I wasn’t impressed with him at all. Unless there is a big turnaround, I don’t think we will be seeing tons of 2 TE sets this year like we did last year, as Barnidge (as of now) just isn’t a threat. I think Olsen only had one drop all night, which was a pass in the endzone…however, the pass was almost in the dirt before he tried to catch it, so it wasn’t like it was a perfectly thrown ball that hit him in the hands (I think it was Anderson who threw the ball. I don’t think it was Cam though I don’t remember exactly). There is an obvious chemistry between Cam and Olsen as they were on the same page all night long.
Now that I have access to a computer I know that #83 is Louis Murphy. I thought as much last night, but I wasn’t sure. He didn’t have a good night overall as he dropped a few balls. He made some good grabs as well, don’t get me wrong, but he definitely had the drops last night. From what I’ve read on here he has been solid so far, so maybe it was just an off night for him.
Pilares was on the field a lot last night. He took snaps with Cam, Anderson, and Clausen and he also fielded kickoffs. He looked solid, not great and not bad. I’m NOT trying to ignite another debate about him, so I’ll just leave it at this: He was on the field a lot last night.
Medlocke looks to be the real deal as far as leg strength and accuracy goes (obviously we have to see how he performs under pressure). He was nearly perfect on the night, missing only one from roughly 47 yards. However, after the miss he booted two in from roughly 53 yards, and he had the distance on them to make it from 55 or so. He was also booming kicks during kickoffs. I would be surprised if he isn’t our starting kicker week 1.
On to the defense. I was excited about seeing Beason again, and I was pumped to get my first in-person look at Kuechly…he did not disappoint. Dude is a physical specimen. He was hitting the sled hard and was popping the dummy even harder. He had a couple of great plays against the 1st team offense. One that stands out in my mind was a nicely thrown ball by Cam to Olsen. Olsen had a slight step on Kuechly, and Cam planted and threw the ball. It should have been complete but Kuechly was able to get his arm in at the last moment and bat the ball away. Good headsup play by the rookie. I was on the Kuechly bandwagon before the draft so I’m glad to see that he is living up to the hype so far. Beason looked to be fine, but because they weren’t going 100% it was hard to tell how the recovery is going. I didn’t see him limping or anything.
Because I am only one man, I wasn’t able to get a good look at our DBs last night very much. I spent most of my time watching Cam (obviously) and our LBs as I was interested in seeing Kuechly/Beason. However, IIRC, there was a good rush by Godfrey for a sack. Like I said, I didn’t spend too much time watching our DBs, because there was just too much going on. I think I’m going back with my friends to a practice next week so I will try to pay more attention to them next time and give you a better update.
Eric Norwood was a standout last night, he had 2-3 great rushes on Cam. Big Money was out there and looked solid. He wasn’t out there a ton IIRC, but when he was he looked like the playmaker we all know he is. I think his knee should be fine week 1. I think this has been said before, but I highly doubt that Hardy is 300lbs. He looked maybe 280-285 to me.
Overall, I think it was a decent practice mainly because Cam looked like a vet, not a sophomore QB. There is a big difference. He was constantly throwing the entire time, and he was running around joking and having a good time. It was a down night for our receivers not named Steve Smith and Greg Olsen. LaFell didn’t do much, neither bad nor good, and I don’t remember him getting thrown to much at all. Not a bad night, not a good night…he was just kinda there. Maybe they are wanting to give the other guys more reps. Murphy had some good catches, but a few drops as well. Seyi had a couple of nice catches. Barnidge was looking shaky and at this point I don’t see him as anything but a backup to Olsen, and the rest of the WRs either didn’t do much or looked bad. Most of the ones who looked bad are camp bodies who aren’t going to be on the team anyway.