BETHLEHEM, PA -- It was the most spirited and feisty morning of practice yet at Lehigh on a day that featured at least three scrums, some sharp play on both sides of the ball (along with mistakes) and a helmetless Michael Vick running after a defensive end.
The tone was set early, particularly by some of the new free agents who had to wait an extra week to get into practice, and who seemed to have lots of energy this morning.
Defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove, running with the first team, was shouting and sprinting all over the place. When an incomplete pass bounced to a team assistant on the sideline, 10 or so yards from the line of scrimmage, Hargrove came sprinting over like a mad man.
“Ball! Ball! Ball!” he shouted, retrieving it and racing back to the huddle.
It was hard to make out who was doing most of the scrapping, since the start of each fight quickly brought a crowd around the combatants. Danny Watkins at Moise Fokou mixed it up at one point; Evan Mathis and Darryl Tapp were involved in some of the other matches (not necessarily against each other).
“We haven’t been on the field for seven months,” Mathis said. “There’ a lot of pent up rage we need to unleash.”
Jason Babin said he was trying to get into it – but couldn’t get anyone to go with him.
“We’re going to be a nasty defense, (so) you’ve gotta practice like a nasty defense,” Babin said. “Everyone gets amped up, it makes you go hard, makes it like a game.”
Here are some notes from the morning:
-- The Lehigh crowd was in midseason form. Jason Peters had a false start in warm ups and the fans groaned in unison.
-- Joselio Hanson continues to be the first choice nickel back, with Nnamdi Asomugha and Asante Samuel on the corners.
-- Asomugha went to the trainer’s tent early and got his ankle taped. He went back to participating in some of the drills, but did a lot of watching from the sideline. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie stepped in as first team right corner. Asomugha was not on the injury report.
-- DRC's coverage has been impressive.
-- Mathis crushed DT Derek Landri on a screen.
-- With Nate Allen sidelined (the team would only say it was related to his knee), Jaiquawn Jarett got a shot with the first team. Jarrett intercepted a bobbled ball, but was mostly quiet.
-- Vick was outstanding all day, hitting on deep throws and in traffic. He hit Johnnie Lee Higgins deep once, and then Chad Hall, who beat Rodgers-Cromartie and Kurt Coleman.
-- Vick wrapped up a two-minute drill with a touchdown to Jason Avant, who made a nice catch after Coleman dove in front of him but missed the ball.
-- Clay Harbor beat Casey Matthews for a TD on a precision throw from Vick. Harbor later got yanked for a false start, though.
-- Samuel kept the crowd revved with his constant chatter and on-field antics. First he taunted coaches into allowing him to cover Riley Cooper in a drill – drawing cheers from the crowd. Later he stood over Jason Avant after an incomplete pass and, with perfect comic timing, gave an exaggerated “incomplete” signal. When the defense stopped the O in a goal line drill, he shouted for everyone to hear, “time for another field goal, Marty!”
-- Ryan Harris was the starting right tackle today. He dominated Babin in one-on-one drills and stuffed Juqua Parker in an 11 on 11 two-minute drill.
-- Vince Young has missed badly on some of his throws. He had Stanley Havili wide open in the flat today and missed by an acre. It wasn’t the only such misfire.
-- Asomugha showed his instincts on a play where Brent Celek lined up wide, with Asomugha covering. The play was a swing to LeSean McCoy – Asomugha quickly recognized and raced to the ball, for what in a game would have been a tackle for little gain.
-- Asomugha later missed on an interception attempt, and Avant made another great grab, twisting and hauling the ball in with one hand for a score.
-- The defensive front has been very aggressive all camp, and especially today, with Hargrove, Cullen Jenkins and Babin all raring to go. They jumped offsides several times, though, and got caught on a draw play in a goal line drill.
-- Darryl Tapp has not made a huge impact so far, but on one play today he broke through the line, tipped a Mike Kafka pass into the air and intercepted it, running the length of the field with the ball. Vick, helmetless and not in the drill, gave chase. Tapp tried a stiff arm.
-- Curtis Marsh had a nice pass break up while covering Higgins. Sinorice Moss later beat Marsh deep, though.
-- Higgins got a shot returning kicks. Last year’s return man, Jorrick Calvin, is out with a shoulder injury.
-- Line coaches Howard Mudd and Jim Washburn have dialed down the language – or at least the volume – after several reporters made note of their rants early in camp.