What we look for in preseason game one is simply, is the team having a good camp, are they conditioned and sound in their techniques. We’d have to access the opener against the Detroit Lions as one that has a check mark next those observations, with as Coach Tomlin likes to say, the arrow pointed up.
Doran Grant’s pick six in the first quarter was nothing to write home about, but he was in the right place at the right time and seemed to be so throughout the night. It’s hard getting used to seeing number twenty four out on the field without thinking Ike is still on the team, but filling the void left by the long time veteran corner is a role that seems to fit Grant.
Our overall assessment is that Grant ‘gets it’, he seems to be a natural fit at that position and gives the sense he knows how to play. His technique is good, he tackles well, and he breaks down on plays very well. Of course we’re not ready to get too excited about Doran Grant just yet, but he does hint at better days ahead for a unit that is young, growing, and desperately in need of improvement.
Conversely we look at a player like Shamarko Thomas, who after three years has been relegated to special teams play, and seemingly is the one who draws foolish penalties on kick-offs and punts on far to regular a basis. Watching Thomas on Friday night flail around, be out of position, and generally not look like someone who ‘gets it’ even in his third year in the league, was disconcerting to say the least. We wouldn’t be surprised if Thomas got cut, except that his value, oddly, is his experience and if depth is needed, he can provide it.
We also like the addition of veteran defensive tackle Ricardo Mathews from the San Diego Chargers, he’ll provide experience, depth, and with the addition of younger guys like Dan McCullers in his second season and newly drafted Javon Hargrave, we’d have to say the arrow is definitely pointing up.