I was finally able to get out to practice -- I usually work for SB Nation in the afternoons -- and after about 15 minutes on Rogers Field I began to regret the decision. Not because it's practice or anything of the sort, but because holy crap is it hot out. With the sun baking the Field Turf and temperatures in the 90s, it was a game of endurance.
But I survived, so that's something. I'm drenched in sweat, but alive. Now imagine wearing pads and trying to go through practice. Yeah, not fun.
That said, things looked ... good, I guess. It is just practice, after all. And it was just the first day in full pads and the fifth of 25 practices. So there's still a learning curve and everyone is still getting used to being in a practice setting again after a summer of individual work.
What did we learn today? Read on!
- Brett Bartolone and Gabe Marks are probably going to play. In fact, I'm almost positive they will in one form or another. Marks is getting a ton of looks at the outside receiver spot opposite Marquess Wilson and Bartolone is working out of the slot in the Elf spot. They both spent a ton of time on the field with the first and second units, and they both performed well.
- Feddie Davey doesn't look like a scrawny freshman seeing the field for the first time. It's not as though he's a tall, brickhouse kind of guy. But he's built -- even though he's a bit on the short side. He's got thick legs, a strong upper body and, on the surface, seems like a physical safety.
- David Bucannon looks like ... well, he looks like his brother, Deone, did as a freshman. He's not exactly a big guy, but he's got that same look. And he kind of plays like Deone, too. His speed seems nice, though he doesn't always aim it in the right direction. On one play, he turned the wrong way, making a move towards the backfield, before wheeling around to chase down a receiver on a post route to knock the ball away at the last moment. It was a play that drew hoots and hollers from the players and coaches.
- Moments later, on the other field, Deone Bucannon made a nice play on the ball to break up a pass. It's all in the family.
- Marquess Wilson is still Marquess Wilson, so that's good. In one-on-ones, he put a disgusting post-corner move on Daniel Simmons, leaving the defensive back all sorts of turned around as he hauled in the ball with nobody around him. Later, he lit up a defensive back while blocking a screen. The physical Marquess Wilson is pretty fun to watch.
- First day in pads means fights. Almost without fail, it means guys are going to scrap. Toni Pole and Matt Goetz went at it to start the action, then Wade Jacobson jumped into the mix, only to kind of tip over. There was another small defensive line vs. offensive line dust-up later, as well. Pretty normal stuff, to be honest.
- Casey Locker was rotating in with the first team, opposite Deone Bucannon, and made a nifty little play in the end zone. His interception came on a tip-drill, with Locker using a nice bit of concentration to haul in the interception.
- The play of the day -- or the loudest play of the day -- went to Tracy Clark. On a swing pass to Rickey Galvin, Clark blew up a receiver and Galvin at the same time in the backfield -- the former of which was trying to block him. It made one hell of a sound, followed by a lot of "oooooohs"
- Good luck trying to figure out first- and second-team players. They were all rotating quite a bit. On the offensive line, Wade Jacobson, John Fullington, Gunnar Ecklund and Dan Spitz saw time at the tackle spots; Matt Goetz, Jacobson and Jake Rodgers saw time at the guard spots; And Elliott Bosch and Taylor Meighen worked at center.
- Rico Forbes still wasn't at practice. He was on crutches yesterday and today. Niu Sale also walked off with an apparent injury midway through practice.
- Gabe Marks, Marquess Wilson, Brett Bartolone, Bobby Ratliff, Andrei Lintz, Rickey Galvin, Gino Simone, Dominique Williams, Bennett Bontemps and Kristoff Williams were all in play at receiver -- and the rest of the receivers on the roster also got some run. Again, lots of rotation.
- The defense was about what you'd expect: Matt Bock, Xavier Cooper and Toni Pole on the line, Darryl Monroe, Eric Oertel, Chester Su'a and Travis Long at linebacker, and Damante Horton and Daniel Simmons at corner. On the back-end, though, Casey Locker and Anthony Carpenter were rotating in at one safety spot while Deone Bucannon held down the other.
- Iaone Gauta is a mammoth dude. Seriously, just one big man. And if you're wondering how to pronounce his name, it's U-WAHN-nay NOW-tuh. The more you know.
- Justin Sagote: Also a big strong man. He and Chester Su'a battle during Bull in the Ring to start practice in a matchup that featured hair flying everywhere. It was pretty great.
- Marquess Wilson held his own against Damante Horton in one Bull in the Ring matchup before Horton struck back and planted Wilson in a rematch. Horton has some serious fight, and is a stronger than you'd think when looking at him.
- I have a bunch of "Bartolone looked good" and "Bartolone still looks good" notes, so that must mean something.
- Alex Jackson is in Pullman, but wasn't in pads yet -- his clock didn't start til he got here, and he has to go through a couple practices before being allowed to strap on pads. He'll be working at corner, though, and was going through drills at that position on Monday. He and Dockery are both learning the position on the fly, and both could be a big boost to a spot that needs depth.
- Nobody puked. Kind of disappointed, but that must mean the team's conditioning is all right.
That's it for now. I'll be back with more on practice later.