Practice, man. We talkin' bout PRACTICE.
I am officially back from my second vacation of the year, which also means back at work. Then again, it also means more opportunity to bring you guys the news you need, which of course means drama revolving around the Orange and Green! Right? Guys? Dammit.
Alright, look. I'm getting this post in a bit early, and before any proverbial poop hits the big metal fan. So this first part is highly, highly subject to change at a moment's notice. Seantrel Henderson was excused from the first day of practice to attend a funeral back home for a childhood friend. This is all well and good, except...it's now day 4 of practice and he has yet to (officially) be seen. Hell, Golden said he isn't even sure Henderson is back in Miami. Rumors are flying around regarding this situation, which is always a good thing. He's gonna be dismissed, he's gonna be just fine, everything is ok, everything is blowing up, OUR PET'S HEADS ARE FALLING OFF. The real story is no one knows for sure, but the situation should come to some sort of head soon, possibly today. Golden is on record as stating that all of Hendersons absences are excused, so there is that bit of silver lining. If they are excused, then it's easy to think they are giving him space to deal with his loss. Or, it could be a smoke screen Golden is sending up to cover his anger with a guy who has never proved his worth on the team again causing a distraction. Time will tell, but of course, we will update as needed both here and on our twitter account. [UPDATE] - Of course before I can even get this thing published, Seantrel shows up for practice, addresses the team, and says he is excited to get started. While this is all good news, allow me to hold my breath until I see coaches report on him from practice. Carry on.
Aside from the gigantic offensive line elephant in the room, practice has been going as well as practice in shorts is expected to go. All the guys on the team passed their conditioning tests, with a few (Duke Johnson) obliterating it. I'm not sure I remember the last time an entire Hurricane's team passed the fall conditioning tests, and that fact alone is just stupid. Strength numbers for this team are just ridiculous, with 41 players repping 225 over 30 times, and 11 guys have hit the 40 rep mark.
Scouring the twitters and blogs for insight into the practice, there are a few common themes with the guys. Since day one, coaches and players have been raving about Duke. Labeling him a freak, ridiculous, special, insanely fast, basically all the things we knew about him but had never really seen. There's still a bit of wait and see with him until he puts the pads on, but overall this kid is going to be something great for this team. Robert Lockhart, Philip Dorsett, and Kendall Thompkins are all catching praise in the receiving corps. Dorsett has been labeled as the most improved so far, Thompkins is getting the fundamentals down but Golden was practically drooling over his speed, and Lockhart is proving to be extremely reliable in both routes and hands, and should factor into the passing game early. There isn't much chatter about the other new guys, specifically Malcolm Lewis, although it is still early on.
Tracy Howard has already earned a few unofficial nicknames through the first half-week of practice. "The Blanket" and "Handcuffs" seem to be the favorites. While it is, again, still early, he has been smothering in coverage and showing incredible instincts, which only enforces the general feeling that he will be fighting for, if not holding, a starting CB position opposite McGee soon. Deon Bush WILL play safety for the Canes, which is hugely refreshing to at least me, since the rumblings of him possibly playing corner would take him out of his normal position, and with the safety depth now that Ray Ray has left, would be illogical. Larry Hope and Antonio Crawford have been impressing at the CB position as well, and should provide great depth as backups. Denzel Perryman is just ridiculous in the weight room, with his bench increasing by about 25 pounds, squat by 20, and building his 225 reps from 24 to 30 since last season. He is also the unquestioned leader in the LB corps, which is huge since the loss of a guy like Sean Spence left a gaping hole.
Stephen Morris has shined overall so far, with Golden going so far as to say that he may be better post-surgery than he was pre-surgery. This is huge for any number of reasons, but mostly because the offense needs a cornerstone, and that is going to have to be the QB this year. Morris and Williams will provide stability, and more than anything else that is what is needed.
Full pads practices are just a few days away, and that's when the real fun starts. That's when you will legitimately be able to look at the results and know that they are somewhat reliable with regards to real-game comparisons. We will of course be here to give you the updates, and we may even have a bit of a surprise in store soon on the new author front. Stay tuned!