I thought that now, after 10 practices and a week before the first preseason game, would be a good time to take a look at which players have stood out at camp thus far. And if you feel I've left anybody out, by all means let me hear about it. Here's my list in no particular order:
Kerry Reed/David Sutton
Both players were undrafted free agents and entered camp in a battle for their roster lives. Now, both Reed and Sutton are certainly involved in a battle for the 5th WR spot after starting out camp looking good. Reed has shown good speed, route running, and hands. He's also been a favorite target of John Beck. Meanwhile, Sutton has shown that, despite being inexperienced at the WR spot, he's got the raw talent to be a legitimate NFL wide receiver. He knows how to use his great size to get open and has even made a few highlight reel catches. It'll be interesting to see them perform in the preseason.
Booker has certainly turned some heads early in camp. He's got great speed and quickness and has shown the ability to make tacklers miss. And when you're his size, that's exactly what you need to do to be effective in this league. He's also proven that he has great hands out of the backfield. In fact, he's been so impressive that Cam Cameron has apparently put in numerous plays designed to utilize Booker. He's going to be a fun player to watch all year.
Rookie quarterbacks usually don't fare all that well in their first NFL training camp except for a few great ones (Marino comes to mind). However, Beck has shown that he's already a capable quarterback. He's shown a strong arm and has been accurate. Yes, he still has his moments where he looks like a rookie, and we all expect that. But what really has to impress you is his knowledge of the system and the playbook already. You can tell that all of his studying has paid off, as he has been making good, quick reads. Yes, it's mostly been against the 2nd or 3rd team defense, but it's still a good sign when your rookie QB seems to understand the offense just a week and a half into camp.
Many of the coaches believed that Daniels would really surprise people this year now that he's fully healthy. He had a pretty good rookie year and was expected to start last year but suffered that ankle injury that hampered him all season. Now he seems to be healthy and has been impressive in camp. He's been picking off passes, showing great technique and anticipation. Considering the cornerback position is going to be under a microscope all season as the weak link in the defense's armor, it's a good early sign that Daniels is playing at a high level and makes the possible loss of Andre Goodman less painful.
Many scouts believed that Wright would have been a 1st day pick in 2006 if not ofr a shoulder injury that prevented him from playing at all in '06. Now healthy, Wright has dropped some weight and is playing both inside and outside on the line. Some observers have even said that Wright has shown the same kind if quickness out of his stance as Jason Taylor. Wright's been very good against both the run and pass and will certainly push for some playing time if he keeps this up. As it turns out, Saban may have actually hit the mark with Wright's selection.
So far in camp, Bell has been all over the field. He's picked off passes as well as make plays in the running. And we all know Bell can really lay the wood. People questioned his coverage ability last year, but this year he's really shown some good range. But what's been most impressive about Bell thus far is his understanding of the defensive backfield. He's the guy who's been barking out the backfield audibles and making sure that his secondary mates are in the right spots. Basically, he's been handed the responsibility of being the QB of the secondary and he seems to be thriving in this role. I expect big things from Bell this year.
Well that's it. If you think I left anyone off, please let us all know. Oh, and Brandon Fields has been impressive so far as well, showing off a strong, Reggie Roby-like leg as well as showing the ability to coffin corner it when needed. But he's just a punter so I won't give him his own paragraph (yes, I know punting is an important part of the game...but there just wasn't enough to say about him).