Friday, October 21, 2016

Friday Column: WVU Pros in the NFL – First week of OTA’s bring clarity

With Memorial Day Weekend approaching, most NFL teams have had a few days of voluntary OTA’s. What did we learn about eight of your favorite Mountaineers?

Will Clarke, Bengals – The team lost starter Wallace Gillberry during the offseason, giving third-year man Will Clarke a strong chance to move up in the rotation.

Quinton Spain, Titans – From Mr. Undrafted to Mr. Starter going into his second season as a pro, Quinton Spain has lined up as the starting left guard for Tennessee during OTA’s. He started the last six games of last season there, so he’ll be the favorite going into the summer to keep that role. He received high marks with his pass protection, but will need to work on his run blocking in year two.

Mark Glowinski, Seahawks – Speaking of second-year WVU Pros who endeavor to start at left guard for their respective teams, Glowinski seems to have that position locked down after the departure of J.R. Sweezy.

Daryl Worley, Panthers – In the Panthers first team practice, Worley took some starting reps at corner and broke up one pass. With the team looking to replace All-Pro Josh Norman, they selected three corners in a row during the draft. The consensus is that Worley is the favorite to start.

J.T. Thomas, Giants – Going into his second season with the G-Men, Thomas is emerging as a leader on the defense. New York had a much-maligned defense last season marred by injuries (Thomas included there) and a lack of leadership.

“That’s something that’s always been a part of who I am,” Thomas said. “I say what needs to be said, I do what needs to be done.

“It’s more about me doing everything possible to make sure that we have a season that we need to,” he said. “Preparation, coming to work every day, and being consistent how we go about the task at hand. For us it’s about getting better as a unit, as a team, and maximizing our potential.”

Will Johnson, Giants – Another new addition to the Giants rosters is FB/TE Will Johnson. While his versatility was never fully explored in Pittsburgh, the Giants believe he can be a important cog in their offense.

Bruce Irvin, Raiders – When he played with Seattle, there was a bevy of voices on the Seahawks defense such as Richard Sherman and Bobby Wagner. One of the reasons, it turns out, that Irvin left the perennial Super Bowl contender in the Pacific Northwest was that Oakland wanted the WVU star to step into a leadership role. Since joining the team, Irvin has been very vocal.

“They didn’t bring me here to be a follower,” Irvin said at OTA’s this week. “I’m a very outspoken guy. You guys will learn that about me. I’m coming to be a leader. I’m not stepping on any toes, but if I have something to say, I am going to say it.”

Kevin White, Bears – After spending all but a few early practices last year on the sideline due to injury, Kevin White is healthy and ready to contribute. During the early part of Bears’ OTA’s, White and starting QB Jay Cutler have been taking extra time together, working to develop a good rapport. They were seen running routes on the sidelines by themselves while the team practiced punting drills. On a few occasions, White and Cutler would get together after the second team offense took the field to discuss various plays they ran during their practice session.

What does White hope to gain by spending extra time with his QB?

“Maybe some extra balls,” he said with a smile.

“Moving the chains on third down,” White continued. “Being on the same page is the difference between completing a ball on third down or punting on fourth down.”

The two spent time together during the offseason to get to know one another. Hopefully, we’ll see plenty of bombs from Cutler to White this fall. That’ll be fun to watch.



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