Q: So who put on a show and stood out at rookie minicamp??- Vick Townes
A: This was a very popular question, but it's difficult to make judgements off of these practices. It is still so early in the process, and the vets weren't even mixed in, so you shouldn't put too much stock in individual performances. Rookie Mini Camp is about developing and setting the stage for future growth. That being said, it was impossible not to notice Hunter Henry. He was the talk of the weekend, and for good reason. The tight end showed an uncanny awareness in his route running along with his trademark soft hands. It was easy to see why he didn't drop a pass all of last season. Even Head Coach Mike McCoy pointed out how the team's second round pick stood out on Friday, while also praising Joey Bosa and Dexter McCoil among others:
"Hunter didn't get here until yesterday, and you saw him catch a number of balls in practice today. The things he did in the passing game were outstanding for just being here a day….It's critical for everybody really, and the whole entire group of guys, but we're going to push certain guys along faster than others. He's going to be one of those guys that will get in there early and start playing. We're not going to hesitate to put him in there. He's going to make some mistakes, and we'll live with that for a while. But as you saw today in practice, he's a very talented player. There's a reason why we picked him where we did. He's going to help us win. I think Philip (Rivers) is going to love him."
Q: How is Branden Oliver looking out there? I missed watching him after he got hurt. What is his role in 2016? – Andrew Skockarich
A: BO looks like BO, and you'll be happy to hear he says he hasn't missed a beat. And I agree with you – it wasn't the same without him down the stretch last year. Oliver said it was tough to be sidelined with his toe injury, so he is grateful to be out on the field working alongside Melvin Gordon, Danny Woodhead and the other running backs. Beyond his talents, he is also one of the most popular players in the locker room, so everyone is happy to see number 43 back out there. To answer your second question, he most definitely will have a role. He is a physical back who grinds and thrives out of the backfield in the screen game. I will have an article on the running backs coming out next week, but here is a small taste of what RB Coach Ollie Wilson had to say about Oliver:
"We missed Branden because he is a consistent player. He wears (defenses) down. He is strong. You see a pile and think the ball is stopped, and then you see him come out of it drive it back for a few more yards. His lower body is really strong, and he has great balance. When guys hit him, they think he's down, but he's not because he's so strong and plays with a lot of leverage. We missed him last year, and it's been good to have him back out there. He's smart, and he's still learning the game. He is going to have a big role for us this year."
Q: How often will a player get new pads, jersey or helmet in a single season?- Mike Patton
A: Interesting question, and I swung by the equipment room this morning to ask. A player uses the same helmet and pads all year long in both games and practice. Jerseys are another matter, and varies per person. For instance, someone like Philip Rivers may go through upwards of 10 jerseys a year. However, with jersey swapping becoming more popular, there has been an uptick for all players in general in recent years.