Checking out Claiborne
For the sake of Morris Claiborne and these defensive coaches, it’s really nice to have him on the practice field. He can take all the mental reps he wants but trying to learn new scheme and technique is about getting on the field and actually doing it. Claiborne’s first day back had his moments where he really did a nice job with his technique.
In the team period where the receivers were running combo routes against the corners and safeties, Claiborne stepped up and looked comfortable where he needed to fit in the scheme but more important playing the correct technique when it meant carrying his man up the field or passing him off to the safety then adjusting to pick up another man. In team period, where Claiborne is having his most trouble is adjusting how quick these NFL receivers sell their routes. You don’t want to be a corner that guesses on routes, so Claiborne has to be careful that he has confidence in his ability and technique.
On Wednesday, there were three routes where he looked bad in the period but was able to pick it up later. Kevin Ogletree ran a beautiful slant on him selling the route outside then quickly breaking inside. Claiborne got caught on his heals and in terrible position but Romo went the other way with the ball. Later Dez Bryant drove hard up the field putting Claiborne on the defensive, then planted on his right foot and took it inside, Claiborne was caught in no man’s land trying to adjust to the break but Romo didn’t miss this time. On the final of the bad run, Ogletree curls inside with Claiborne in position to defend the pass but Romo is able to shake the rush and Ogletree sees this breaking inside. Claiborne is on Ogletree’s back but not in position to defend the pass from Romo. In this case, Claiborne learned that you need to finish the play.
What Morris Claiborne needs to do is figure out these routes that NFL receivers run then try to find a way to slow the game down to make plays like he did in college. You see the talent but now it’s about staying healthy and learning every day.
Scandrick On the Rise
Cornerback Orlando Scandrick is playing with much more confidence on the outside but out of the slot as well. You can see this in practice and it carried over to the Oakland game. Thought he was in great shape on the route that Jacoby Ford ran down the sideline that Gerald Sensabaugh made the interception on staying to the inside of Ford. Later in the quarter, on 3rd down out of the slot, he was able to take Ford again, jamming him off the line, throwing off the route keeping Carson Palmer from getting him the ball. In practice on Wednesday, Andre Holmes tries to get in his route but Scandrick jams him so strong that Holmes has no chance but still tries to run the shutter – go but it’s way too slow and it kills the play.
Playing cornerback in the NFL is more than just having skill but also having confidence in your ability to make plays. Thought that Orlando Scandrick lost a little bit of that last season but from what I have seen in this camp so far, he is off to a much better start.
Fighting For spots
There are three preseason games left in this training camp but there are already some positions that we are seeing players that were on the squad last season, fighting for their roster spots. The one area I want to focus on is the defensive end spot and Clifton Geathers. Here is a player that the scouts love because of his measurables and potentially what he can become as a base defensive end in this 3-4 defense. With guys like Marcus Spears and Ben Bass showing some play making ability in the Oakland game, Geathers is one of those players that needs to get better not only in practice but show something during the games. You can have all the size you want but if you don’t consistently get off blocks and get in on plays, you don’t do your team any good. The front office carried Geathers all last season with the hope that he could develop and that is a smart thing to do but when you talk about what role you will play and how well you do it come into question and then you factor in other players in the mix, then roster spots become a different story. Clifton Geathers needs to show this front office that he is more than just a big body. He does have the ability to develop and help this team in the future.
Young Guys Catching the Eye
I was asked on a radio program yesterday if fans should get excited about guys like Ben Bass, Adrian Hamilton and Alex Albright making plays against the 3’s and 4’s of the other team and my answer was of course you should. Any time a young player has a productive game you should get excited but now what you need to focus on is the next opportunity they will get in a game. It’s coaches’ jobs to put players in situations to make plays, we hear this all the time. What Bass, Hamilton and Albright did by showing up in the Raiders’ game, is that it bought them the opportunity to now get put in some situations against 1’s and 2’s and see how that goes. All coaches are looking for are smart football players that make plays. If Bass, Hamilton and Albright are able to carry over what they did in the Raiders’ game to this San Diego game, then it could very well go to either making the final 53 or if in Albright’s case, more work in some defensive packages. Receiver Dwayne Harris is also in this same boat when it comes to getting more of an opportunity. In Wednesday’s practice. Harris was getting some of the first team reps as a slot receiver that Cole Beasley was also getting. Be excited when players make plays and expect them to get more of an opportunity against better competition.