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On The Field For Morning Practice – 7/31

Posted by Matt Terl on July 31, 2009 – 2:48 pm

A few notes about morning practice. To follow things like this (and, in some cases, these actual items) in real time, be sure to follow me on Twitter. (In fact, due to some techinical stuff, all of these photos come via my Twitter.)

In any event, it appears that the ovation and name-chanting for Jason Campbell is going to be a daily event. I was disappointed that Charles Robinson left that out of his otherwise very good profile of Campbell over at Yahoo! Sports while still mentioning the fans with the pro-Vick signs. Because there seem to be a whole lot of people doing the former, and only a few of the latter.

Speaking of the Vick signs, a few fans drove in from Pennsylvania today to offer up this counter-protest:

Meanwhile, the wide receivers opened practice with a drill I don’t recall seeing before: two wide receivers would cross in front of the quarterback running in opposite directions. The receiver closest to the QB would throw his hands up and work to distract the farther receiver; the back guy just had to focus on and catch the ball.

No one failed particularly notably at the drill, but it was just one more thing that Malcolm Kelly has looked good doing. I still cringe every time he takes a hit, but — my neuroses aside — he’s shaping up as a legitimately exciting guy to watch through the early part of training camp, and the crowd has noticed. Kelly, for his part, is doing his best not to notice the crowd. “You really can’t get too caught up in that,” he said afterward. “It was just like that last year, and then as soon as I got hurt, there were all upset. So I don’t really get into all that. I just go out there and play football.”

Another guy who loves interacting with the crowd is Fred Smoot. I noted yesterday that he’s starting to emerge as the on-field leader for the cornerbacks, taking over a bit of the role of the departed Shawn Springs. But he’s still Fred Smoot, waving at the crowd WWE style to cheer for him during 1-on-1 drills and shouting at everyone on the field throughout practice. So far, Smoot seems pretty firmly entrenched as the nickel corner; the position battle is below him on the depth chart between Justin Tryon and Kevin Barnes.

Barnes aside, some lesser-known rookies have been garnering some attention as well. Robbie Agnone, for example, the young tight end out of Delaware, hasn’t done anything too flashy, but he’s definitely made his presence known onfield. “I had a few catches and blocked well,” he said. “The offense has come to me now, so I know where I’m going and I can just go out and play football now. I do feel like I can compete on this level.” I’m not saying he’s going to supplant Chris Cooley or Fred Davis or even Todd Yoder, necessarily, but I think he’s worth watching as a potential practice squad guy, at least.

The big story, of course, involved a rookie who is pretty well-known indeed: the on-field appearance of the newly-signed Brian Orakpo. The excitement was somewhat muted, as Orakpo did not really participate in practice, but he did show up in uniform.

His eagerness is understandable, given that defensive coordinator Greg Blache talked yesterday about other players taking away Orakpo’s reps. “”That’s Coach Blache for you, man,” he said afterward. “He will tell you the truth. If I am not here other guys are getting my reps. But ,you know, he’s not a guy to hold his tongue and that’s one thing that I respect. We talked, we laughed and he’s happy I’m out here and we can just keep this thing going.”

Word is that storms are on the way and that the viability of the afternoon practice will be evaluated around 3:30, but practice or not, I’ll have more stuff later today. [UPDATE: Practice was cancelled.]

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