My observations from the film room at Valley Ranch:
- There was no question of the improvement of David Arkin from this season to what we have seen the last two from him in training camp. I had honestly given up on Arkin, which is a cardinal sin for a personnel man, especially at offensive line because I just had not seen the strength and technique development and I was prepared to move on but I was wrong.
Arkin was not perfect and was actually poor on two plays where he looked like the player of old. He was over extended and off balance and when he plays that way, he is no good to this line. During this game, he drew Arizona's best defensive linemen, Calais Campbell and was able to play him to a draw. Arkin's hands and feet worked very well together and he didn't put himself in difficult positions to block. He was able to work with both Travis Frederick and Tyron Smith to pass stunts or to help when uncovered. In the running game, he had some good fits but still plays on the edge at times too which he will need to clean up.
What David Arkin has shown in this camp that he does have the flexibility to play either guard spot in a backup role and be dependable. Ronald Leary and Mackenzy Bernadeau are better players and should start over Arkin but the days of questioning why he still is on this team will no longer be asked by me.
- If you ask me of a rookie that has come into camp and appears to be ready to play right now, I would be caught between Travis Frederick and DeVonte Holloman. Though both have not always been perfect, they are both far exceeding what I believed was possible in their first seasons.
In watching Holloman play yesterday, I was once again impressed by his ability to be around the ball. He has a real knack for coming up with plays on this defense when he is given the opportunity. He is rarely out of position and in three games, I have only seen him twice not make a secure tackle in space and other time he needed to take a quicker and better angle to keep the receiver from getting a first down but other than those plays, he has been spot on.
He is a physical point of attack player that also plays with instincts and awareness for a player so young. Holloman doesn't look fazed or confused in his assignments and wherever he has had to line up, he has been dependable. His overall play in this camp has not been that of a rookie in this league. I don't believe that he would start at this point over Justin Durant or Ernie Sims at the Sam linebacker but each day, he is gaining more and more confidence in this defensive coaching staff.
- I see more in the works from Bill Callahan in the way he is going to use Lance Dunbar. If you watched this game, you would have seen from Dunbar what those of us that had been at training camp the entire time were well aware of.
Dunbar has the ability to change the game, in the open field with the ball in his hands. It was a simple route in the flat, matched up with a linebacker in space. In these situations, Dunbar is going to win every time. There is so much explosiveness in his game, that it will be difficult to keep him off the field when these games are played for real.
Dunbar in camp has shown toughness as well and though he lacks the height that you would like in your running back, he makes up for it in how physical he plays. What his role on special teams last season has done is make him a tougher player. I had always seen the skill but to me, he is more than just a luxury back.
I believe he could play down after down and be effective no matter how you get him the ball. His ability gives Callahan plenty of options, now it's up to the staff to become creative in how they use him.
- Much has been made already this training camp if Gavin Escobar was a wasted second round pick or should the front office have gone in a different direction at another position. There are plenty of views and opinions and as people knee jerk along, Escobar showed you Saturday afternoon of some of the traits he is capable of.
I have said all along and as well the coaches and front office that with Escobar, it would about being the lack of strength at this time that would hold him back early in his playing career. You didn't need to be a scout to see this during practices and when you watched him in the games but what you need to pay attention to is how he is used in the passing game this first year.
There is nothing quick or elusive about Escobar but what you do see is the ability to catch the ball in traffic and secure the ball for a positive gain. His work in the Red Zone against Arizona was clearly better than what we had observed in camp and that is where he can make a difference on this squad. When Escobar comes off the ball and works his way up the field, he presents himself as a large target with soft hands that can make dependable plays. Right now, he is a get in the way blocker that is learning his craft. He lacks power and strength but those are areas that can be developed and before we label him a bust or a wasted selection, we might want to allow him to develop.
- Now the discussion of how to keep Alex Tanney on this roster will once again pick up steam. To his credit, Tanney came in and did a masterful job of leading this offense with some solid throws and outstanding pocket awareness. In observing Tanney this camp,
I always was impressed with his arm strength and the confidence that he has in it but I was more impressed with his ability to buy time in the pocket with his feet. For a young quarterback to find ways to keep the play alive can be rare because the first thing that want to do is run with the ball or panic while they are on the move thus resulting in a poor throw. [embedded_ad]
During camp, there were times where Tanney just wasn't as accurate as he needed to be but on Saturday, he did a much better job of putting the ball in spots where his receivers do not have to work for it. He was able to hit receivers on the move and showed some touch when he had to work the check downs. Where Tanney could have capped his day was on the final two drives of the game for the offense with the game on the line but a three and out and an interception killed that opportunity.
On his interception, he made a mistake that most young quarterbacks struggle with and that is starring down a receiver. Tanney's eyes at the snap never went away from the left side of the field and Tony Jefferson made him pay for it with a nice read and break on ball. Tanney could have gone underneath to Joseph Randle but went outside instead.