After months of hard work and preparation, your Sacramento Mountain Lions took to the practice field for the first time Thursday morning.
The first day of Mini Camp, which takes place at Grant High School, started off with some stretching and calisthenics. They then broke off into smaller groups for position drills. They finished off with about 45 minutes of very high-energy seven-on-seven drills.
Some impressions from the first day:
- Daunte still has a cannon. He completed a couple of really nice deep balls, including one along the sideline that was 50 yards in the air easy. He struggled a bit on the shorter routes, but that is to be expected.
- The back-up QBs looked pretty darn good too. Both Shane Boyd, who I remember from his days playing at Kentucky, and Justin Goltz, who was the Mountain Lions first pick in this year’s draft out of Occidental, had moments of brilliance in the seven-on-seven drills.
- The linemen are big, the skill guys are fast. This is by no means a case of Daunte Culpepper and the 50-some-odd dwarfs. They have surrounded Culpepper with a lot of talent. Nearly all of the players on the roster are former Division 1 stars, and most have spent time in NFL camps. The Pac 10, in particular, is well represented, with 17 former Pac 10 stars are on the roster, by my count.
Daunte isn’t the only Mountain Lion who has made his mark in the NFL. A handful of other players who you may recognize:
- Doug Gabriel — the wide reciever has 1,550 receiving yards in 57 games for Oakland and New England.
- Otis Amey — the former Sac State star spent part of the 2005 season as the 49ers punt returner. He had a 75-yard touchdown return against the St. Louis Rams.
- Chris Perry — the former Michigan star was a first-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2004. In 2005, the running back had 51 catches and a couple touchdowns.
- Dontarrious Thomas — the linebacker with 144 career tackles was the Minnesota Vikings second-round pick out of Auburn in 2004.
- Zeke Moreno — the USC linebacker played five years in the NFL, four with the San Diego Chargers. He has 120 career tackles.
- Antonio Chatman has played parts of six seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers. The shifty receiver had his best year in 2005 with 49 catches for 549 yards and four touchdowns. He also spent part of that year on my fantasy team, filling in admirably when two of my starters had byes.
Overall, I was very impressed with the talent and effort I saw on the field, and I am really looking forward to seeing them grow as a team. At Wednesdays press conference, Coach Green said his goal was to bring "NFL (caliber) football to non-NFL cities". If Thursday’s practice was any indicator, he’s well on his way to doing just that.