Former NFL scout and executive Phil Savage running the show.
MOBILE, Ala. – Even though to the naked eye the first practices for the North and South teams didn’t look much different from years past, the NFL scouts and coaches surely had to take notice.
Former NFL scout and executive Phil Savage was put in charge of overseeing the practice regimens this year so as to be able to make it an even playing field for the talent evaluators. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock liked what he saw out on the field.
“I don’t know if it’s a tweak because the NFL teams have run these practices forever,” Mayock said. “I think Phil’s trying to put a little more emphasis on the 1-on-1 drills, I think Phil’s trying to change the organization a little bit. I’m not saying it’s better or worse, it’s different and I think most of the people here appreciate it.”
This week was going to be brand new to the players regardless, some more than others. There are some schools that run pro style systems so those players might have had an easier transition, whereas for others it was like night and day.
The Oakland Raiders coaching staff is coaching the North Team and they had a lot of energy as they wanted to get their players acclimated very quickly. As expected, there were plenty of missteps in that first practice, which is why the beginning period with individual drills probably was more beneficial to the scouts, general managers and coaches watching from the sidelines and bleachers.
“We had only one day of install and we tried to put a lot in,” FIU defensive back Jonathan Cyprien said. “I’m trying my best to pick it up and the two secondary coaches are great coaches. They’re coaching me during the play and after the play when I have questions they answer them for me. I’m so happy to be coaches by these NFL coaches.”
ANOTHER MEMBER OF THE LONG FAMILY HITS MOBILE
Five years ago Chris Long, the oldest son of Hall-of-Fame defensive end Howie Long, made his trip to the Senior Bowl and parlayed that into being taken in the first round by the St. Louis Rams. Now his younger brother, Kyle Long, is taking his turn.
Unlike his sibling and his father, Kyle is lining up in the offensive side of the ball as a tackle for the North Team. Listed at 6-foot-7 and 312 pounds, he only played one season at the University of Oregon and started 10 of 12 games. Having two family members with NFL experience certainly will benefit Long and he credited his older brother with getting him ready for this week.
“He did a great job of preparing me in regards of what to expect on a day in, day out basis,” Long said. “Nobody can really prepare you verbally for what you’re going to undergo physically in the game of football but you just try to get better everyday and try to roll with the punches. It’s just great to play against all of these great players.”
ODDS AND ENDS
Miami Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland and Head Coach Joe Philbin watched the North practice from the sideline closest to the press box. That was a popular spot for a lot of the coaches and scouts. … Long’s head coach at Oregon, Chip Kelly, was swarmed by the media after practice and peppered with questions about his new job as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. He started the afternoon by attending the South Team’s practice across Mobile Bay in Fairhope where he was photographed with Alabama head coach Nick Saban. … In addition to Kelly, first-year head coaches Doug Marrone (Buffalo Bills), Mike McCoy (San Diego Chargers) and Bruce Arians (Arizona Cardinals) were in attendance. … Mike Shula, the son of former Dolphins and Hall-of-Fame coach Don Shula, watched from the bleachers in his new capacity as offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers.