Ed. Note: Bumped from the FanPost section. If you're going to training camp practices this summer, Rumblers, and want to write about it, we'll gladly front-page your reports! - BG
Just back from the Sunday night practice and I thought I would put in my two cents on the major position battles as I saw them. Perhaps other people going to training camp can do the same and provide those who can't make it to St. John Fisher some Rumblings perspective on what seems to be happening.
The clearest contest in my view is at left tackle with Cordy Glenn looking like a million bucks and Chris Hairston playing OK, but not at Glenn's level. Glenn is enormous but also much more mobile than I had expected. The only one who got by him all night was Chris Kelsay, but that was after a short pass had already been completed to C.J. Spiller (although I'm not sure Glenn could see it). Ladies and Gentlemen, it appears we have a left tackle.
Things are less clear-cut when it comes to the receivers. In effect, T.J. Graham, Marcus Easley, Kamar Aiken and Derek Hagan are competing for the last two or three spots (assuming Stevie Johnson, David Nelson and Donald Jones are locks). Based on my observations tonight, I would say they rank in the order I just listed them. Graham and Easley both looked terrific, catching everything that came close to them. I suspect Graham is going to be a major factor in the passing game as soon as this year. But Aiken also had a very strong practice. If he performs as well in the preseason games as he did tonight I would not be surprised if he makes the roster. David Clowney, Naaman Roosevelt and Ruvell Martin did not do much (Naaman actually dropped a couple of balls) and do not appear to be competitive.
On the corners, Stephon Gilmore struck me as being as good as advertised, Aaron Williams somewhat less so (he couldn't keep up with Graham or Easley). Ron Brooks was impressive on a couple of plays, and Justin Rogers looked good until he went out early with an injury. As for Leodis McKelvin, what can one say? He seemed a nonfactor, except on one deep pass to Hagan when he ran alongside the receiver and then did... nothing. Hagan caught the pass without any effort on Leodis's part to stop him and then sauntered into the endzone for a touchdown. Perhaps his practice tonight was atypical, but if not then I doubt he makes the roster. A young corner named Prince Miller looked better than Leo and could be stashed on the practice squad until needed.
Finally, on the quarterbacks, I thought Ryan Fitzpatrick was extremely sharp all night and that Vince Young is clearly the better player at this point than Tyler Thigpen. Vince had lots of nice completions, and he ripped off some big yardage plays with his feet. Given Vince's truly explosive first steps, it's hard to see why he wouldn't be a superior wildcat quarterback to Brad Smith, although Smith would likely be better in the red zone (Vince may need some room to get going in order to be effective).
I didn't watch the defensive tackles closely so I have no real thoughts on that competition, except that the defense was obviously very strong all night. I was impressed by how Mario Williams stood right next to the other line players during drills and gave them encouragement and what seemed to be suggestions. Very classy.