After three weeks of OTA’s, all three stages of the playbook have been installed and practiced. The mini camp is to put them all together and speed it up. The point is to give them a taste of what Training Camp will be like, for coaches to evaluate where strengths and weaknesses are for both the player and team.
During minicamp, the players better be knowledgeable and in shape to do it all the weeks of TC.
The message is: you’ve seen it, you’ve done, be prepared.
Because of this, players who didn’t do well during OTAs, don’t usually do better during TC. However, players who did excel can drop because they don’t come back prepared, their strength is less in pads, or the speed too much, or they didn’t keep up on the playbook.
While the defense did get a new DB coach, the rest remained the same, plus they played without Shane Ray all TC last season, so the returning players should click and achieve more. Who’s not mentioned on this squad could be more compelling than who is.
On offense, the returning WRs and RBs could have a tougher job because they have new coaches. However, while they say the O playbook is really different, I’m told it’s not. Most of the McCoy stuff has been removed, but it’s been replaced with more of the Bill Musgrave style we started seeing towards the end of last season.
As far as the Oline, we won’t know what we’ve got there for a while. First off, all the vets won’t be practicing until sometime during the summer. Secondly, it’s tough for coaches, let alone “reporters” to judge strength/leverage until they’re in full pads.
The Dline also has the same issue, but also they can’t hit the QB. A player like Bradley Chubb may look likes he’s killing it when his knuckle is in the dirt, but once he has pads on and is facing a mountain of a man like Jared Veldheer, he could look like he’s in quicksand.
The front three or four during mini-camp should mostly be judged on if they know their gap and aren’t knocked off their blocks, same for the OL. Plus, can they read what’s coming?
Rookie wide recievers typically struggle with route running. Catching isn’t the top item coaches are watching for, it’s hitting their marks and getting separation. Against our top notch defense, this is a big achievement.
For the new backs, it’ll be seeing the gaps (that’s where quickness is a huge asset) and also reading the defense to help protect the QB.
For the QB’s, getting the ball out on time and accuracy downfield shows they know the playbook and can read the defense. Also, while they can’t be hit, coaches want to see pocket presence which mean stepping up into it, and feeling where pressure is coming from resulting in good decisions.
For the DB’s and LB’s, you want to hear about them knowing their assignments and being on the ball. Literally. Since Case is new, watching how he does against Justin Simmons and Darian Stuart should be telling for all three. Safeties are the unsung heroes.
What we should hear during mini-camp is that the defense is ahead of the offense. That’s normal. We have the same DC and almost the same squad from last season, plus their playbook is easier.
What we hope is that the gap isn’t huge and that the backs look really good. That corps is vital to covering up any warts.
OTA’s give an idea of who’s learning and growing, but mini-camp shows who’s retained it and is ready for the dog days of summer.