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Scout’s Notebook: Thoughts To Ponder As Camp Gets Closer
IRVING, Texas – Here are some questions, thoughts and ideas to ponder as the days draw closer to training camp.
Who wins the battle at right tackle?
• This is a position that many fans will have their eyes on when the team first takes the field in Oxnard. Doug Free will get the first crack at the job, but Jermey Parnell will have his opportunity as well. I do not believe that you’ll see one get more reps over the other in the early going of camp, but there is going to be a point where the front office and the coaches are going to have to make that call. Free and Parnell will take turns running with the ones much like they did during OTAs and minicamp.
The coaches have a great deal of confidence in Parnell and it will be interesting to see if he can step up enough to take this job away from Free. The experience that Parnell gained playing last season will help him greatly but will he be consistent enough down after down, practice after practice for the coaches to give him the job. The physical ability is there but can he stay focused for every rep that he is in there? This will be the question. My gut tells me that Free will win this job and toward the end of camp you will see the staff play him that way.
Can Terrance Williams avoid the “rookie wall” during camp?
• There comes a point in time where every rookie in training camp has to fight through the practices and not allow the soreness and mental fatigue to affect how they are progressing in getting ready for the upcoming season. These coaches have put a great deal of pressure on Williams to have a major role in this offense as the third receiver.
As much as we will see “12” personnel, there will be times where Callahan will want to spread defenses out and this is how he will do it. Williams will be in a battle with a group of receivers for that role including Dwayne Harris who has the veteran experience. What Williams has to guard against is having up and down days on the practice field and in games. He has to be mentally tough when he is not at his best. Each practice is an opportunity for him to not only prove to the coaches but his teammates that he can handle the job. There is no question because I have seen it before with young receivers hitting the wall but for how long and will it allow Harris to take the job from him? If he gets through it fine, it will only make him a better receiver for the season.
• Going into camp, you always had an idea of how many players you wanted to carry at each position on your 53. Performance and injury will at times dictate what those final numbers might look like. Take for example the receivers. Do they carry five or six? Does Anthony Armstrong who has been strong in these camps make it over guys like Cole Beasley and Danny Coale? Do they carry five corners and five safeties? Where does Danny McCray fit in the mix? He appears to be the 5th safety with Sterling Moore as the 5th corner. What if rookie Jakar Hamilton plays well at free safety? Would the front office try and move a player at one of those two positions to keep Hamilton on the 53? That is a possibility.
An interesting player at defensive end is Cameron Sheffield and will his pre-season play make this club think about carrying five defensive ends? My gut tells me that carrying a fullback is probably not going to happen, but does that mean that they will carry four running backs? If you watch the special teams practice, Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar are playing major roles and how quickly will Joseph Randle get up to speed and will he contribute this season? Keep an eye also on the Will linebacker position with Brandon Magee and Ernie Sims. I really do like Magee but Sims more than held his own last season but he is a veteran player and it’s something that this front office has been adamant about and that is trying to play with younger players. Magee is also very highly thought of by this front office and what he did at Arizona State.
Do you remember Caleb McSurdy?
• When breaking down this defense, especially at linebacker, a name I tend to leave out is that of former seventh round selection from 2012, Caleb McSurdy. Do I forget McSurdy on purpose because I don’t believe he is a good fit? Not at all, because this team will need a backup at the Mike and McSurdy is a guy that is getting work behind Sean Lee. I tend to not mention him because I like the work of Brandon Magee and Taylor Reed from college tape, but that’s not to say that McSurdy hasn’t shown up at times.
What is interesting about him is that he spent the entire 2012 season rehabbing his Achilles, but he also took that time to remake his body physically. Coming out of Montana, he was stocky and thick which was better suited to play the Mike in the 3-4 scheme but today he will need more range to his game. He needs to be able to work sideline to sideline but also handle the drops in coverage. His body looks different, not as bulky and slow. The best trait that McSurdy had in college was his nose for the ball, and to play the Mike in this scheme, you better do the same. McSurdy was one of those players that I thought would be outstanding on special teams even before he was hurt last season. From what I have seen so far, that thought hasn’t changed.