Special Teams Issues a Concern as Padded Camp Opens

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Photo by Dona Keast

Zach Zenner is Really Good, You Guys

Like, for real.  First item of note, Zenner was hitting guys.  That’s what made George Winn put coaches on notice last season, so it’s a good thing.  Unfortunately for Zenner, guys were also hitting him.  Really, really hard.  I’m not sure he made many friends in his first day in pads, but he made some good impressions to be certain.  Showing decisiveness as a runner as well as the power and speed that made him famous at SDSU, Zenner was rocking people as a runner.  That isn’t to say he isn’t completely flawless.  On one play that drew cheers and aws from the crowd, Zenner showed good vision to cut through a small hole inside (Outside was where the play was going, but it was cut off), then good power when he barreled into some defenders.  He got some extra yardage on the play, but he stopped moving his legs and I felt he could have gotten much more if he had kept at it.  Zenner also showed some on special teams, but that comes with an asterisk I’ll explain in a bit.

The New 83

Vernon Johnson took Patrick Edwards‘ jersey number and it looks like he might be taking his camp hype as well.  On the few good Kellen Moore and Dan 0rlovsky passes, it was often Vernon Johnson being targeted.  The former small school deep threat looked good on deep and intermediate routes and made some impressive catches while covered.  At the very worst, I think he might get some Matt Willis type of hype during the preseason as he’ll probably be targeted often by both the #2 and #3 offenses. He’s a long shot to make the team, but he’s one to watch.

We Have a Good Kicker Again!

Matt Prater had a bunch of rust to kick off after coming to the Lions post-Kicker-Awfulness.  The Lions dealt with some dreadful kicking that lost them some games before Prater came in, and he started out rough before ending the season as reasonably reliable.  He wasn’t the elite kicker he was in Denver, but that guy might have returned.  One of Prater’s first kicks today landed right in the lift bucket, and it only got better from there.  He was consistently hitting or clearing the lift, which was behind and above the goal posts, despite moving back to at least 45 yards.  That’s the TOP of the goal posts he was clearing at that distance, and he was doing so like it was nothing.  Man, it’s nice to not have to worry about kicker again.  Sam Martin still looked great at punter, and we might have a returner soon, but special teams as a whole?

Next: We May Have a Problem