7. According to WGR 550’s Joe Buscaglia, E.J. Manuel had another inconsistent day on the practice field, as his performance yesterday was a mixed bag of nice throws and big mistakes. The Bills have great pieces around their quarterback in Cordy Glenn at left tackle; C.J. Spiller at RB; and WRs Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Mike Williams, and Marquise Goodwin. It’s all up to Manuel to get them the ball, and his lack of consistency is a bit disconcerting. 2013 is by no means a make-or-break year, but it would be a huge disappointment for their first-round pick to fail to make significant strides, especially since Doug Whaley aggressively moved up for Watkins this year.
8. The Seattle Times’s Jayson Jenks declared Colorado rookie WR Paul Richardson his “Player of the day” for yesterday’s minicamp session, as he and fellow rookie receiver Kevin Norwood continue to impress this offseason. Both should have significant roles in a Seahawks wide receiver corps that is still deep even after losing their best player in Golden Tate. Richardson can be a big-time playmaker at the next level, because he is ridiculously explosive. The fact that Russell Wilson now has Richardson to go along with Percy Harvin is simply unfair, and P-Rich can soften the blow of losing Harvin, should the star wideout go down for an extended period of time again.
9. Cat Crave’s Bobby Agnese passed along two very interesting tidbits on touted Carolina Panthers rookies, and he gave some effusive praise to new starting right guard Trai Turner, who was pretty much handed the gig after how poorly the right side of the line played last season. Turner is a mauling run blocker, and Agense writes that the big LSU product “thrived” yesterday and has the “position on lock-down”. This is definitely great news, as Turner sounds more pro-ready than I initially thought. We always knew he has great tools and is a high-level run blocker, so this is also solid confirmation of that.
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. I didn’t have Benjamin as a first-round pick on my board due to his drops and raw route-running, but we’ll see if ace WRs coach Ricky Proehl can quickly bring Benjamin up to speed as a route-runner and work on his hands. The Florida State product’s play as the starting “X” receiver will be critical to the Panthers offense, as Cam Newton needs him to be both relatively consistent and as explosive as his size/speed combo suggests.
10. Per John Congemi of “The Finsiders”, the Miami Dolphins gave second-year Boise State product Jamar Taylor the starting job opposite of Brent Grimes for yesterday’s minicamp, and the intriguing cornerback made good on that. He reportedly defended a few passes yesterday, and we’ll see if both he and the Falcons Alford can become impact players across from established No. 1 CBs. Taylor barely did anything last year, but he was a great player in college and received plenty of buzz heading into his rookie year. Both he and Dion Jordan are second-year breakout candidates, and it’s great to hear that Taylor put in a good day’s work.
11. Patriots official site writer Andy Hart stated that second-year receiver Josh Boyce has looked “pretty impressive” in offseason workouts, but he warned us that Boyce’s hands haven’t been up to par lately, as he has consistently made poor drops. I thought Boyce would make more of an impact than he did as a rookie, since he looked like the most pro-ready of the top rookie trio of Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, and Boyce. Instead, he barely did much last season, while Dobson and Thompkins received a good volume of snaps. Dobson has been consistently highlighted as a breakout candidate in 2014- and for good reason- but don’t sleep on Boyce either, since he is a solid route-runner who possesses plenty of speed.
12. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jimmy Kempski had some excellent notes for us, and it was especially interesting to read his observations on how the backup quarterbacks performed. While he noted that Mark Sanchez looked good on two series, but he threw a ghastly interception (par for the course, honestly) to second-year safety Earl Wolff that went right to the defender. Kempski thinks (hopes) that it was a communication error, but it definitely isn’t good either way. That said, at least Sanchez did look “very sharp” for periods of time, and the real focus on him will be in preseason games.
Kempski was far more critical of second-year USC signal-caller Matt Barkley, which hurts since I’ve grown to like the guy after watching him in college. Anyway, Kempski writes that Barkley has made no progress since his rookie year, and this is very disconcerting indeed. If he continues to struggle this offseason, then he could be cut in 2015. He was touted for his accuracy and mental tools when coming out of college, so it’s troubling to hear that he hasn’t progressed with a full year under his belt. Hopefully things change, as it’s still too early to tell. If Barkley continues to disappoint and Sanchez doesn’t stop the head-scratching throws by the time mid-August rolls around, then the Eagles had better hope that Nick Foles isn’t dealt any bad luck via the injury bug. Thankfully, the Eagles have the best offensive line in the NFL, especially with Lane Johnson on the radar as a big breakout guy.