By Rob Moseley
Venue: Outdoor practice fields
Format: Helmets, jerseys and shorts
Monday’s first practice of preseason camp was quite clearly, in small but obvious ways, a first practice of preseason camp. Conversely, Tuesday’s second practice could easily have been one from late August, or mid-October, or December – from the sidelines, it seemed that intense.
No doubt coaches are reviewing film of the practice and finding much to critique, from the standpoint of execution. “We’ve got a bunch of young, talented guys that don’t really know what they’re doing yet, but there’s a lot of stuff we can polish up and in the long term will be really good,” Mark Helfrich said afterward. That said, to an amateur watching on the sideline, it was an intense, fast, physical practice, just two days into camp.
The Ducks won’t put shoulder pads on for the first time until Wednesday, but the intensity at the line of scrimmage was still very much there during team drills this afternoon. And while Helfrich noted one period for the defense that he thought was substandard, overall the guys on that side of the ball were very stout over the course of practice.
Tony Washington jumped in front of a receiver for an interception during an early drill, and the first 7-on-7 period featured a fumble forced by Tyree Robinson and recovered by Rodney Hardrick, and an Erick Dargan interception. Derrick Malone Jr. added a diving interception in one of the team drills midway through practice, a period that also featured pass breakups by Issac Dixon, Stephen Amoako, Reggie Daniels and Troy Hill.
Helfrich mentioned Hill by name in the post-practice huddle as a guy who has been consistently making plays over the past couple of days. He was involved in one of those plays that made you wonder how things could have played out in a live hitting situation, as Marcus Mariota hit Keanon Lowe with a deep ball just as Hill was closing in; the defensive back pulled up, but in a live situation he was in position to make a big hit. Big enough to break up the pass or keep Lowe from scoring? We’ll never know.
Highlights: There was a lot of good stuff both ways in an 11-on-11 situation late in the day focusing on third down. The defense put a cap on its strong day overall with a Dior Mathis pass breakup, another ball that Tyson Coleman tipped at the line and Arik Armstead intercepted, and several other stops.
But the offense converted some chances as well. Royce Freeman got the offensive sideline hooting when he cut off a Tyrell Crosby block and knifed through the defense. Morgan Mahalak rolled out of the pocket and found Jalen Brown open deep. Byron Marshall had a couple of impressive runs, and Jeff Lockie completed passes to Austin Daich and Darren Carrington.
Other observations: Two of the consistent standouts on offense today were receivers Chance Allen and Zac Schuller. Allen, playing mostly with the ones so far, has been as consistent as I’ve ever seen him. Schuller is a small but athletic guy; early on he leaped on the sideline for a ball thrown over his head and reached to keep a foot inbounds, and later he went weaving through traffic, reached to snare a ball out in front of him and at the same time evaded a defender. He also managed to make a catch with all-American Ifo Ekpre-Olomu draped all over him. … Lowe managed to make a catch at one point despite running out of his shoe early in the route. … A team period heavy on run plays featured a couple nice Kani Benoit runs, and a couple Armstead stops at the line. …
Dargan joined the group of players receiving punts this afternoon. … Freshman receiver Charles Nelson is incredibly quick off the line. … Mathis and Arrion Springs were among several players who drew kudos for their work during a drill for blockers on the punt team. … Daich, a sophomore walk-on receiver, has switched from No. 86 to No. 19. I would assume that’s because he could potentially find himself playing special teams with the other No. 86, Torrodney Prevot.