Last Thursday provided an opportunity to watch some of the young talent mix in with returning talent…
Lurtsema's Reaction: Line play, QBs & Harvin
BL: You could tell the difference between veterans and the rookies. Brian Robison just dominated on the pass rush. You could see the difference in the quickness, as far as the feet go, as far as making a spin move. When he spun, it was always upfield. With defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, they were working on some of those moves and you could just see the hesitation in the feet of the rookies. No rookies really impressed me. Robison was so far ahead of everybody else it was unbelievable.
I watched Kenechi Udeze. You could really tell the rust he had. You can't be out that long and just come out there and expect everything to work. Obviously, he'll learn a lot faster than the rookies and you could tell he was a lot better than any of the rookies there. Yet you knew the difference from what he was a couple of years ago. It was just a joy to see him out there working because he's just a neat kid with a tremendous attitude. You can't help to get behind a guy like that.
VU: Did you think he looked like he was in pretty decent shape?
BL: Not really. When you start going with all these one-on-ones, hitting the dummies and everything, a lot of times your legs can give out a lot quicker. It's hard to judge, but I thought his leg conditioning was good but nothing great.
VU: Did you watch Phil Loadholt much?
BL: Yeah, they're almost giving him the job. I saw Ryan Cook playing right guard quite a bit. With that 6-foot-12 monster (Loadholt) on the right side, he had very, very good technique. He's almost like Byrant McKinnie – you've got to get a taxi cab to get around them. It's a long way to go. He was a little strong on his feet – by that I mean he was a little heavy – but he carries the heaviness in his feet.
The kid I got a kick out of was Nick Urban from Winona State. I really liked a lot of the things I saw from him right away, a couple of the pass rushes. They said how excited he was, local boy and everything. But he took one of the defensive linemen and slapped his hand off his chest. The right hand came down, hit him in the wrist, where you're supposed to because you've got the best leverage there, but his recovery time is so fast, like Ed White. If you'd beat Ed White, you'd kind of yawn and say, ‘Here's another sack' and then Eddie is there just waiting because his recovery time is so fast. I liked that, and I saw a guy that beat him inside and went back out and I really like Urban's footwork. At this time of the season, the defense is supposed to be ahead of the offense because the offensive linemen need time to work on their technique. It happens every camp. All the coaches are going to say the defense is ahead of the offense the first couple of weeks, but yet I really got a kick out of seeing Urban make two really fine plays.
VU: What did you think of Percy Harvin?
BL: Geez, is he quick. Watching him catch the ball, he's got the soft hands. I enjoyed that and I know that they are using him in many different ways in practices. It's kind of interesting how they are going to toy with him. He gets some great separation on the pass routes. I saw him working on the kickoff returns and, like I said last week, run the kid and work him on the kickoff returns. I don't ever want to hear a coach say he is worried about getting him hurt because once you instill that in a National Football League player, that's when he's going to get hurt. Every one of them has to have the attitude that is almost aloof, where you don't think you'll get hurt. I don't think any coach would say that either, but don't save him like they did in college. Throw the No. 1 draft choice in there and let him do his thing and let the fans get excited because, man, he's quick.
VU: Did you get a feel for the quarterback competition?
BL: Of the three, I like Sage Rosenfels the best. A lot of times on Thursday, they were working on the quarterbacks releasing the ball before the receiver finished his route. I thought he had the most consistency of the three quarterbacks. He throws a great ball. It's an easy release, a nice spiral and everything. I thought he looked better than Tarvaris Jackson. With Jackson, he seemed to throw behind a lot of receivers. Rosenfels seemed to lead the receivers more, whereas T-Jack was behind them. Maybe T-Jack has that psychological part where he thinks he might throw an interception.
Bob Lurtsema registered 57 regular-season sacks and three in the playoffs during his 12-year career as a defensive lineman in the NFL, playing with the Baltimore Colts, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, and was the longtime publisher of Viking Update. He joins VikingUpdate.com for a weekly Q & A session, and his monthly column appears in the magazine.
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