—Undrafted rookie guard Lucas Patrick did a solid job, especially considering he was playing with a club on his broken right hand. The former Duke star was stout in protection and even moved some people in the run game – which isn’t easy to do with one good arm. He won’t make the final 53-man roster, but based on what I saw, he should get very strong consideration for a spot on the practice squad.
—For a huge man, guard/center Matt Rotheram isn’t overly physical. I noticed that last summer and again on Friday. That’s a big – pardon the pun – problem for a player who’ll never have the edge athletically on any opponent. I keep waiting for him to pound some poor D-lineman into the turf, but it just doesn’t happen.
—Undrafted rookie running back Brandon Burks put up good rushing numbers (9 carries for 45 yards), but what I like most about him is the different skill set he brings to the position. The former Troy star has an explosive first step, and that’s why I prefer him to John Crockett, whose lack of burst is obvious on this play:
—Datone Jones rushed effectively, but his play against the run left a lot to be desired. After three seasons as a defensive end, he’s obviously still learning how to play outside linebacker. The former No. 1 pick certainly has the size to set the edge, but he was often late to react to the ball and did not instinctively feel plays developing.
—Joe Thomas looked bigger and more confident (maybe the two go hand in hand). The third-year inside linebacker from South Carolina State added weight in the offseason and it showed. He was more aggressive taking on blocks in the run game, and he generated some legit pop on contact in the open field. I wrote a positive story about Thomas a few months ago, and at least for one night, he made me look good.
—The first thing you notice about nose tackle Kenny Clark is how low he keeps his pads. That tells you he probably has a wrestling background and he’s definitely coachable. The No. 1 pick from UCLA didn’t have an overly impressive debut, but he made one play that foretells a very bright future. This is simply textbook:
—Undrafted free agent defensive lineman Brian Price was more stout at the point of attack than Dean Lowry, who got pushed around a bit because his first move is too often up. But the fourth-round pick was, as expected, the better player when it came to rushing the quarterback. Both rookies worked really hard all night.
—Wide receiver Jared Abbrederis‘ outstanding vision and quickness makes him a terrific punt returner, but he has no business bringing back kicks. Asking a player who’s already suffered multiple concussions to do the most dangerous job in football makes little sense. And even without the legit injury concerns, the former Wisconsin star doesn’t possess the speed and/or the lower-body strength you want in a kick returner.
NOTE: Unless I’m either at the game or have access to the All-22 coaches film, I refuse to analyze the performance of wide receivers and defensive backs. Without the ability to view the entire field, it’s impossible to make an accurate judgement.