Matt Barrows observations from OTA´s + Mini Camp.
Bruce Ellington. That familiar spring visitor, the hamstring injury, felled a number of wide receivers, who do more running than anyone else. But not Ellington. As advertised, he showed excellent strength and stamina. It was also obvious that the playbook began to click for him the deeper he went into the spring. He became quicker as a result, something that really was apparent in the recent minicamp. Many of you noted my mancrush for Oregon State receiver Brandin Cooks prior to the draft. Ellington may not be quite as fast and explosive as Cooks, but he has many of the same qualities, including drive and toughness.
Quinton Patton. The second-year receiver shook off a scare about his foot, which he broke last year, to finish with a good minicamp. He was prolific in Wednesday's session, and he looks to make a big jump in his second season. He also served up the most memorable image – at least in my mind – of the session when, in the locker room following the final practice, he power-dunked over coach Jim Harbaugh. See, it's become a game inside the locker room where there is a Nerf hoop. The players lure someone to walk under the hoop and then one of the players, usually Patton, poster-izes that person with a vicious dunk. (Laughter ensues). The victim on Thursday was none other than Harbaugh, which to me signals how well-liked he is – just one of the guys – in the locker room. Of course, there were roars, absolute howls, after it happened, although some of the players noted to Patton that he actually missed the dunk. A few minutes later, the game came to a halt when Patton's next power-dunk ripped the rim from the backboard.
Chris Cook. He was the beneficiary of Chris Culliver's absence and of an ankle injury to Eric Wright, who retired this week. That meant that Cook took nearly all the first-team defensive repetitions at right cornerback. He did not stand out with any interceptions – a shortcoming of his – during any of the open practices. But there also was no press or jam coverage permitted, which is Cook's specialty. That is, Cook had a good spring and we still have yet to see him in his element.
Darryl Morris. He also benefits from Wright's retirement in that it means there's one less player competing for nickel cornerback duties. Vic Fangio likes Morris' quickness – he may be the fastest player on the team. He also likes Morris' smarts, which is what won Carlos Rogers the job the past three years. That Morris also shines on special teams is a bonus.
Tank Carradine. It's clear he's back from the knee injury that hampered him his rookie season. It's tough to evaluate defensive linemen in spring, but Carradine certainly showed the explosion off the line of scrimmage for which he was known at Florida State. It was a positive spring for him.
Blaine Gabbert. Harbaugh says there are four quarterbacks competing to be the No. 2 quarterback. Mmmm. Gabbert had, by far, the most repetitions after Colin Kaepernick. And while none of the passers were terribly accurate as the team breaks down and reinstalls its offense, Gabbert looked solid.
[ Edited by DeUh on Jun 23, 2014 at 9:25 AM ]