Defensive Preview For Saturday’s Scrimmage

Training camp is in full swing and the first scrimmage is just about 72 hours away. Scrimmages serve a multi-faceted purpose, but their main role is to confirm what coaches are seeing in practice. In the case of position battles, scrimmages are a chance for players to gain ground on the guys ahead of them on the depth chart, or they could potentially end with the leaders separating from the rest of the pack. 

So, who are some players in need of a big scrimmage? 

JK Johnson and Jyaire Brown. We have been talking about the young secondary room throughout the past few weeks, but with Jordan Hancock slightly hobbled, it is important that the other young corners step up their game in a big way. Johnson is someone on who the staff is very high on from a talent perspective, but he needs to put it all together in the field in order to contribute. A good scrimmage would be an excellent launching point for him to get some forward-moving momentum for the rest of training camp. 

Brown is the most recent freshman to lose his black stripe, and we have been high on Brown every step of the way. He handles his business like a grown man, which is very rare for a true freshman, but like Johnson, he has to put it all together on the field. Normally, as a first year, he would have the luxury of developing gradually, but with depth being a concern with the corners it is important that Brown continues to develop at an increased rate. Like Johnson, a good scrimmage could give Brown that extra confidence boost that is so important for a young player, which could help turn him into a reliable option in the event of a catastrophe.

During his presser yesterday, Knowles mentioned that he feels that Steele Chambers and Tommy Eichenberg have the inside track to be the starting linebackers. With that knowledge, the clock is officially ticking for the other guys in the room. By all accounts, Teradja Mitchell is a great team leader, but if he wants to see meaningful snaps it is paramount that he has a productive scrimmage and plays sound and fast. This will be his opportunity to gain some ground on the guys currently leading him, as it could also be for Reid Carrico. While Carrico is a very impressive athlete, he still needs to seize his opportunity. If nothing else, this scrimmage could ensure that he is, at the very least, a special teams contributor for the 2022 season. 

Finally, the staff is very confident in the defensive line, and Knowles said as much in yesterday’s media session. Although everyone will play and rotate in, players like JT Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer are coming on like hurricanes and are pushing to be the starters. This scrimmage is an opportunity for Zach Harrison to turn some heads and prove that he is ready to live up to his 5-star billing. He certainly has the talent to do it, but it is just a matter of unleashing his ability on the field and playing mean and with good technique. Tyler Friday and Javonte Jean-Baptiste are also in a similar situation as Harrison with a chance to earn more snaps. 

The scrimmage will also be a good opportunity to get some clarity on the defensive tackle rotation. Taron Vincent, Mike Hall, Jerron Cage, Ty Hamilton, and Tyleik Williams are all vying for the lion’s share of the snaps and have to seize the moment this coming Saturday. 

The scrimmage will hopefully provide some clarity to these position battles and help settle from rotations. That being said, there is still a long way to go until the end of camp, and nothing is set in stone now and nothing will be totally set after the scrimmage either. But, this is a good opportunity to get a nice preview of what is to come for the rest of fall camp.