Some thoughts from the practice fields at Valley Ranch:
- Lance Dunbar suffered a left foot sprain in the game against Arizona this past Saturday and will be out of the lineup for the next three to four weeks which means his availability for the opening game against the New York Giants is questionable. For Dunbar, it's a major setback to an off season where he has done nothing but shine in every opportunity he has been given.
He came into the OTA and minicamp practices in outstanding physical condition and was ready to compete. Through his work in those practices and training camp, I did not get the impression that he could not handle more of a physical work load. He might lack height but that's the only trait that would handicap him. He showed the ability to run with explosive quickness off the edge, but he also showed the ability to take the ball, cut it back inside and deal with linebackers and safeties.
We have seen him break down the linebackers in space consistently with the ball in his hands. His ability to catch and get up the field is a feature that Bill Callahan and this offensive staff are going to take advantage of. Where Dunbar will also be missed is on special teams. When you study him on tape, he is one of the most productive cover men that Rich Bisaccia has on the squad. Usually the first man down, and secure in his ability to bring the ball carrier down.
Injury to a player is never a good thing but when it affects a player that the club is counting on to play a major role in the offense and special teams, it can be even more painful and to lose this player, it is.
- Kevin Kowalski and Ray Dominguez returned to practice on Monday which gives this offensive line two more healthy bodies to work with this week. I have always been a fan of Kowalski's and the flexibility in which he can play with but what I really like about his return, is that it gives the squad another quality, veteran body on the offensive line for these last two preseason games while I am trying to evaluate Joseph Randle, Danny Coale, Alex Tanney and Gavin Escobar.
It's important that guys like Kowalski, Phil Costa and Jermey Parnell get work in these games because they have the experience to matchup the opponents in which they are facing. This is not a slam at these players that I have mentioned, but the reality is that they are better in many cases then the guys they are trying to block.
If I was in a front office of a team, I would always have a veteran quarterback much like the Cardinals had in Drew Stanton and two or three veteran offensive linemen, so my offense can continue to function without looking sloppy and out of whack. I like what I have seen from rookie Edawn Coughman and what he has shown as a guard but mainly at offensive tackle.
He can get some quality work next to a couple of veteran players that can help get him through the game and maybe cover for him if he makes a mistake. In a preseason game, with a line of Weems, Kowalski, Costa, Coughman and Parnell, I have a chance to get some things done scouting wise.
- When I worked for this club in Pro Personnel, I use to love to try and get my bosses to claim a player off the waiver wire. I wasn't always successful but at least Jerry and Stephen Jones would let me present my case. My first impression of the waiver claim they made last week of defensive end Thaddeus Gibson has some interesting merit. Gibson physically is a great looking kid in his uniform.
As they would say, "He passes the eye ball test". With little or no work last week, he came into the game against the Cardinals and really stood out on tape with his ability to rush the passer. You could see by the way he got in his stance, he knew how to rush the passer. He played in a track stance the entire game and I loved it. He was quick up the field and when he got around the corner, he could really close things down. He played with some bend and redirection that really caught my eye.
There was just so much natural ability in his rush. There was a side of me that wished he could have been in camp with Rod Marinelli the entire time because I think he gets it. I have seen George Selvie develop working here and would be very interested to see if Gibson could have done the same thing. He has two games to show these coaches what he has but this was a claim where someone in that department did their homework. [embedded_ad]
- The news of the back surgery for Alex Albright and how he will miss the entire season because of it is one of those things you shake your head about but then just try and move forward. You have heard me say this before, no one feels sorry for you in this league. Albright was a core special teamer and a jack of all trades. Like Tyrone Crawford, he will be missed.
With Albright lost for the season what does this do for his special teams spot? Does this open the door for someone like Brandon Magee, Taylor Reed or Cameron Lawrence? Where the club might go, is keep Anthony Armstrong as the sixth receiver and let him be a core guy.
All along, I didn't believe that the front office would keep six receivers but the question they have to ask themselves is Armstrong better at teams than one of those linebackers or another defensive back. Albright is a difficult player to replace because he does so much for the club but Armstrong has shown that he can handle responsibility and he could develop nicely on those cover teams to help with securing tackles that you are going to miss with Albright.