Quarterbacks: Caleb Hanie is a welcomed addition to the 53-man club because he possesses an “NFL arm (zips deep passes with ease)” and superb mobility, something you need when taking snaps with an incredibly shaky offensive line (total understatement). Hanie’s confidence was apparent in the preseason, while displaying keen awareness to go along good decision-making skills.
He’s the most talented signal caller on the roster, wouldn’t be surprised to see him in their as a starter – sooner rather than later. Shows traits that Orton and Rex don’t possess. Has the size you want in a QB, very strong @ 230 pounds. – Absolutely no reason to go out and get Chris Simms, unless they feel the desire to cut Rex.
Running Backs: Giving Kevin Jones a spot is smart, though he still looks too hesitant making sharp cuts, in and out of moves. Tough, physical runner who is the most experienced back on the team. Work ethic, hunger, hands, and blocking ability is all there. Adrian Peterson is a special teams standout/ace – but keep in mind he will be on the field 2-3 series a game, more so as a 3rd down back and especially in short yardage situations. Offers a bruising style, above-average hands, and a good feel for the game picking up blocks. Does the little things – but nothing exceptionally well. Needs to break more tackles and improve on keeping his balance when moving his feet for extra yardage.
On the other hand, Garrett Wolfe barely made the team – is it just because he was drafted in the 3rd round? He should watch Darren Sproles. Has to become a playmaker and use his speed and vision, hiding behind linemen. Wolfe has show me nothing yet – where’s the quickness, elusiveness, and explosiveness, can he be a “change-of-pace” type back for Matt Forte?
Fullback: Jason McKie is a mediocre lead blocker and cannot run nor catch all that well. Would like to see team use more single backformations and 4 WR sets (include Olsen spread out in for McKie with Clark at TE). I want to see Kellen Davis and Greg Olsen on the field more than McKie to open up the middle for short passes and crossing routes. Jason Davis (Philadelphia Eagles) was signed to the practice squad – Tony Hunt barely beat him out for the starting job.
Wide Receivers: Brandon Rideau had an impressive preseason (3 TD’s) and was signed to the practice squad. At 6’3″, he shows good hands and decent speed. Marty Booker was non-existent throughout all four exhibition games. Is the team just saving him for the regular season? He makes team instead of Rideau because he’s a veteran, he can block, and he’s a sure-handed target across the middle on 3rd downs.
I approve the idea of keeping Mark Bradley yet again. Why not another try? He’s the most talented wideout besides Devin Hester and he has improved catching the rock. He is the tallest receiver (6’2″), a valid deep threat option, and is finally healthy! Give Earl Bennett some time – he was a gem in the Draft and I like his instincts, toughness, and overall balance. Has a chance to be the most productive, consistent pass catcher.
Tight Ends: At 6-feet, 7-inches Kellen Davis should have an opportunity to make an impact right away in the red zone area. With Desmond Clark hurt, Davis is getting more reps and valuable playing time. Just needs to focus on looking in the easy catches because he has all the athleticism in the world to make the difficult ones (See: preseason game 2 @ Seattle). He makes things look easy with his frame, skill set, and excellent jumping ability. The sky’s the limit. I would like to see him in for effective, successful play-action plays. Now the big question is: When will the team realize they should use him and with what formation/special package?
Offensive Line: Glad to see Kirk Barton make the squad. He brings dedication and passion, knowing what it takes to win being at Ohio State (sort of, you get the picture). Barton is not a mauler by any means, but he does show good awareness in pass protection – good technique, fundamentally sound. We struggle if he gets in, not yet ready. More of a right tackle, will take time to develop – good investment. Reminds me of Shane Olivea. Very surprised to see team only keep seven linemen (9 DL). Extremely bad move considering it’s the team’s weakest position by far. Would’ve liked to see G/C Anthony Oakley stay because of his versatility – maybe practice squad candidate? Letting go of guard Tyler Reed was a good move, he’s been on the team too long doing nothing.
Needless to say, Chris Williams’ prolonging back injury has set the team back, way back. Actually, not drafting any serviceable/decent linemen during Angelo Era is mind-boggling and shocking – that’s the main reason for the OL’s downfall. Is it necessary to offer Fred Miller a contract? Yes, why not? I take him over Barton as the back-up for now – just for a season, though he was downright awful in ’07. To keep it short, 2002 3rd round draft pick guard Terrence Metcalf, plain and simple – should be GONE! Whether it be injury-prone factor, ineffectiveness, or just he’s worn out his welcome, fact of the matter is – he is completely useless. I hope we release this stiff, bum, call him what you want but call him – for an OL that can suit and play, preferably a guard. This team has no interior run blocking whatsoever! Sad part about it – are there any guards out there? Big concern, major weakness – it has to be addressed, maybe the combo of Josh Beekman/Roberto Garza will have something to say.
Who’s Available: Former Cincinnati Bengals All Pro OT Willie Anderson and Pittsburgh Steelers OT Max Starks. Both would be upgrades over journeyman false start victim John St. Clair (decent, versatile – just not a left tackle) at LT. Though here’s where the dilemma/catch is: MONEY Issues – The Rea$on Ander$on (refused pay cut) is on the open market and Stark$ (underachiever, transition tag) is on the trading block. Is GM Jerry Angelo that desperate? I would think so. Dollar signs could be holding any move on standby. I wonder if there is a way to duplicate four Olin Kreutz clones?
Tomorrow: DEFENSIVE Evaluation