Minicamp Morning: E.J. Manuel inconsistent, Paul Richardson and Robert Alford shine, more

Use your ← → (arrows) to browse


Atlanta Falcons cornerback Robert Alford. Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

There are plenty of interesting nuggets around the league that beat writers are passing along, and our “Minicamp Morning” series helps bring some of those notes into one place with quick thoughts on what each note means.

1. Desmond Trufant quickly established himself as one of the league’s best young cornerbacks and a centerpiece player on the Atlanta Falcons defense as a rookie, and fellow second-year CB Robert Alford has a shot at joining him in 2014. The Falcohlic’s Jeanna Thomas wrote in her observations piece that Alford has become more of a ballhawk and starred at minicamp yesterday. If Alford can make the jump this season, then the Falcons will be set at corner. Thomas also passes along that pass rusher Kroy Biermann participated in team drills and seems fully recovered. This is great news, as his injury was one of a number of tough blows to the Falcons defense. He can fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker as the Falcons make the transition to what could be a hybrid front seven. Biermann does a quality job of putting pressure on the quarterback, but he’ll have to amp it up a notch with Osi Umenyiora a question mark in 3-4 sets.

2. The New York Daily News’s Manish Mehta tweeted that third-year pro Stephen Hill looked like the best Jets receiver at minicamp upon the time of him writing that tweet, and this is good news for those hoping Hill can make something out of his career. His first two seasons out of Georgia Tech have been unmitigated disasters, as he’s been more raw than expected. Not only does Hill drop a copious amount of passes, but he has issues running routes and didn’t make the mental transition to the NFL quickly enough. Even Rex Ryan showed public disappointment with Hill, so we can only hope that the uber-athletic wideout can right the ship this offseason. One notable minicamp practice is meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but the microscope is on Hill this offseason.

3. ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss highlighted a reception Wisconsin rookie running back James White made for the New England Patriots at practice yesterday, as he beat linebacker Dont’a Hightower, whose slow step in pass coverage has been well-documented, on the sideline for a reception. If this is a sign of things to come for White on the Patriots, then they’ll have two running backs who can cause damage through the air. Shane Vereen is undoubtedly one of the league’s elite pass-catching RBs, but White would be a great contingency plan should Vereen go down for an extended period of time (this has happened to the Cal product in each of the past two seasons).

4. More Patriots stuff here. Both NESN’s Doug Kyed and the Providence Journal’s Mark Daniels tweeted that camp body Daxton Swanson continues to play well in offseason workouts, and it will be interesting to see if Swanson can sneak onto the Patriots practice squad and clear waivers. Swanson has played so well in workouts that it’s possible someone else could give him a shot at the roster, but his chances of cracking the Pats roster are nil given their incredible talent at CB.

5. Vernon Davis decided to skip out on the first day of minicamp in order to amplify his distaste with his current two-year contract that will pay him $4.7 million next season, but 49ers backup tight end Vance McDonald failed to capitalize on the added reps. The second-year pro entered his rookie season with positive offseason buzz before doing nothing of note in the regular season, and his lackluster practice sessions continued yesterday. Per the San Jose Mercury News’s Cam Inman, the 49ers as a whole put in a sloppy practice due to frequent drops, and he singled out McDonald as a player who had “a couple” of them. If this ends up being a trend in the offseason, then McDonald will put himself further behind the curve and will have have a minimal impact for the second straight season.

6. The 2012 season was an anomaly for ace kicker Mason Crosby, who was clearly on form for the Green Bay Packers last season and is picking up right where he left off in the offseason. ESPN NFL Nation’s Rob Demovsky writes that Crosby nailed all seven field goal attempts yesterday, including a 53-yarder to end practice.

Use your ← → (arrows) to browse

Tags: Atlanta Falcons Buffalo Bills Carolina Panthers Daxton Swanson E.J. Manuel Featured Green Bay Packers Jamar Taylor. James White Josh Boyce Kelvin Benjamin Kroy Biermann Mark Sanchez Mason Crosby Matt Barkley Miami Dolphins New England Patriots New York Jets Nick Foles Paul Richardson Philadelphia Eagles Popular Robert Alford San Francisco 49ers Seattle Seahawks Stephen Hill Trai Turner Vance McDonald

  • ahrcshaw

    I think the article should read “Patriots Minny Camp’ four out of 10 comments is a little much.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      3 of 12, but point taken. I did note that in the piece, and it’s pretty interesting because there’s a reason why it’s Pats-centric. There are so many big outlets covering the Patriots that offseason workouts are heavily scrutinized, and there are a multitude of pieces and interesting nuggets on Pats camp stuff. I guess it’s out there to make up for Belichick’s lack of material, but I’d rather read notes and observations than quotes anyway.

      • ahrcshaw

        3-12 OK, at this time of year any news is worthy regardless of the team, that is as long as it is meaningful news. Have a good one, and Go Panthers.

        • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

          Thanks, and I will admit that I worried about making it too Pats-centric at the time of writing it, but I had a difficult time finding other nuggets. As for Benjamin, drops are only one part of the equation, so I think people need to keep in mind that there are other qualities that can make up for being drop-prone. Proehl should be able to get the most out of him, since he turned Ted Ginn Jr. into a viable threat last year.

          • ahrcshaw

            I know Ricky personalty and there is no question in my mind he will get the most out of the WR’s. I think the drops by Benjamin at this early stage is probably the best thing that could have happened to him, as the films will be an asset to Ricky and Benjamin’s progress.
            The Panthers could suffer a little in their pass offense “statisticly”, but overall they will score more and move the chains more which will definitely help the run game.
            GO Panthers.

  • Cyteria Knight

    I am perplexed by the information coming from the Cat Crave reporter about the supposed struggles by Kelvin Benjamin during OTA’s & Minicamp. With the exception of the June 17th minicamp where the field was wet and caused many of the players to slip and maintain control of the ball I have not heard or seen any information coming out of OTA’s or minicamp that KB has been struggling with drops any more than any of ther WR’s on the Panthers or other NFL teams. Sometimes I think that in order to prove their own points or pre-conceived ideas about a player people cease any opportunity to prove themselves right. I’d like to hear some independent confirmation of the claims being made by the Cat Crave reporter about KB. “Agnese also writes that first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin’s struggles with drops in college have unsurprisingly bled over to offseason practices, as he “dropped more balls than he should have”. As Agnese notes, Benjamin’s drops are more of a concentration issue than an issue with his hands, but it’s a major issue nonetheless.

    • ahrcshaw

      Personally, I think it was good as it will allow Ricky to work with the films to work on his problem. Also I do not think anything is wrong with making a comment on some one who had a bad day. I have them all the time.