Sunday Wrap: Injuries, Speaker Helmets and Cray
Well, the first week o' camp is complete. Coach Z kept it light today, realizing he couldn't go with a two-a-day right after a full-pad scrimmage ("I got a little overzealous in my mind," Zorn said.)
Zorn canceled the afternoon session today and expects the players to rest before the morning session Monday, which will be more intense. Today, the players were just in shells and shorts and the session lasted just 80 minutes. Zorn knows his team is pretty beat up, particularly the youngsters, and with just 80 roster spots he'll need many of them to get him through next Sunday's preseason opener against the Colts.
Zorn said he does not expect any of the long list of injured guys - Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly, LaRon Landry, Erasmus James, Carlos Rogers, Chris Wilson, Rian Wallace, Kareem Moore, Anthony Montgomery or Anthony Mix - to be back for Monday's practices. To his credit, he dialed it back a bit today. With so many players out you couldn't properly run drills - "the rotation gets messed up," Zorn said.
The Skins can't afford too many more hamstrings and the like or they're going to have to start giving out injury settlements left and right just to be able to have enough bodies to get through the preseason games.
Even if guys like Kelly and Landry can play Sunday, Zorn said, "it will be in a limited fashion." With the starters likely to play one series, at most, it's looking like the third team could be playing the entire second half. (Don't bank on any sort of entertainment quotient Sunday night, at least in terms to how it might relate to anything that would translate to the regular season. The Colts will be playing a ton of future CFLers as well).
Things will get back to normal in terms of workload Monday. The Skins will work on blitz pick-up (always intense), do some 9-on-7 work, and also run a third-down script that Zorn expects to be "very competitive."
"We're going to demand a lot of them tomorrow," Zorn said.
Even with all the rest built in, and the special teams practices some afternoons (which veterans are generally excused from), this has been by far the most grueling first week of camp I have seen since joining this beat in 2004.
As for other topics I promised to follow up on:
Zorn says the team will not have a designated second defensive player set to wear the speaker helmet. Starting MLB London Fletcher, who never misses a play, will wear it, and should anyone have to come in for him, the team would then adjust the second speaker helmet (which sits in a box on the sidelines) to fit that player. Not sure how quickly they could make that transition, and at this point if I'm a Skins fan I'm hoping backup LBs Khary Campbell and H.B. Blades have the same size head as Fletcher.
"We decided not to have a second guy with the speaker, because we feel that London is an every-down player," Zorn said. So if Fletcher goes down, whoever the backup MLB is - likely Blades - "we'll get that guy fitted, whoever that is, we'll get him fitted right there. But we're not going to have a designated second [microphone] guy."
Zorn said defensive coordinator Greg Blache had some issues getting used to the new device during the scrimmage Saturday and ended up just going to hand signs for the most part.
"He was just having trouble, 'What do I mash [with the buttons on the console]? How do I speak into it?'" Zorn said of Blache. "So he's got a learning curve ahead of him as well. It was very funny to watch. So I'm glad we did it and he's going to be better with it as we go along."
Fletcher will hardly play at all in the preseason, so Blades/Campbell will be the guy charged with helping Blache - who can be quite explosive - get through the game with the headset. Good luck to them with that.
Got around to asking Zorn about music a bit. Started slowly, probing into his last concert experience. Turns out he caught a show back in Seattle this offseason. Eric Clapton and Robert Cray - two of the greatest guitarmen/bluesmen on the planet. (Loved "Strong Persuader" back in the day, Cray's breakthrough album.) Cray is from Oregon so I may have to delve deeper into this. Guessing he and the Z-Man might have a connection.
Jason La Canfora
July 27, 2008; 11:16 AM ET
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