My thoughts from the Wednesday practice:
*When you watch offensive tackle Alex Barron play, the one area that strikes you is how good of a foot athlete he is. On the other hand, another area you notice is he doesn’t display much upper or lower body strength.
When studying offensive tackles, you not only look for a player that has quality footwork but more importantly, uses strength to control the defender. You have to be able to stop a defender’s charge or get push in the running game.
To compensate for this, Barron leans on the defender then works his feet in order ride the defender out of the play. He really has trouble extending his arms but his footwork saves him.
Barron is a very lean 316 pounds and really has trouble when defenders take a hard inside charge on him. This happened in the one-on-one pass rush drill when linebacker Curtis Johnson ran a twist stunt inside and Barron was locked onto him man for man. Once Johnson committed to the inside, Barron didn’t have the power to stop him.
It was something that showed up on tape with him. When Barron played with the Rams, against the Saints and Vikings, he was always much better taking the rusher up the field then down inside.
*It will be real interesting if Kevin Ogletree develops into a quality special teams player.
We know he has skill with the ball in his hands, we saw that in the game played in Philadelphia last season. My question: Does he really have the burning in the gut to make tackles as a gunner on the punt team or as a member of the kickoff team? To play special teams in the NFL takes a great deal of passion and desire, it’s not for the meek.
Ogletree runs well enough to have an impact on teams. Heck, he runs a 4.36 40.
With how tight roster spots will be on this squad, special teams play and what you bring to the game every week will determine if you make this roster. Patrick Crayton is a proven return man and steady receiver. Sam Hurd is a trusted core special teams player trying to become more of a part of the offense.
Right now, Ogletree is being placed in roles on special teams that require determination and toughness. He will have to be more than a guy that catches “bubble screens” on Sundays to help this football team.
*The scout in me is enjoying watching backup fullback Chris Gronkowski practice. There are certain players that just catch your eye when they walk on to the field and go to work. Gronkowski is one of those guys for me.
He is a square built player (240 pounds) that looks and plays with power. Whether it’s in the 9-on-7 drill where he is the lead back trying to dig Bradie James out of the hole or as the wing on the punt team, working outside blocking on the edge or using his 4.70 speed to hustle down the field on the kickoff team. He is an interesting player to watch.
With five games this preseason, Gronkowski will have an opportunity to make a good run at this roster.