"He wasn't in condition to go through a training camp like this," Zorn said of Kelly. "He really wasn't."
Kelly and Thomas could not pass the team's conditioning test and their bodies quickly wore down with two-a-day practices, Zorn said (players have to perform a timed shuttle run within certain parameters). Both will miss several more weeks of the preseason and will be quite far behind. Zorn said it will be difficult to count on them to have mastered much of this system by the start of the season - if they are healthy - and they will very much be behind...
Kelly and Thomas may each find a niche in the offense early on in a particular situation (maybe Kelly in the red zone and Thomas on some fly routes), but Zorn has made it clear that James Thrash is definitely the No. 3 WR, and he isn't counting on the rookie receivers for much early on.
I'd like to briefly take a moment to really congratulate James Thrash on his tenacity. He was a Joe Gibbs guy through and through yet managed to convincingly convert this new coaching staff in spite of challenges from much younger, more talented receivers in both Kelly and Thomas.
I guess the question is: How much of that is attributable to the two of them? I am equally impressed with Thrash's ability to win out for the #3 position as I am disappointed that neither of our 2nd round wide receivers managed to do so. And while I remain optimistic that, at some point down the road, both Kelly and Thomas will earn their billing as two of the best receivers coming out of the 2007 NCAA class, it is very disheartening to hear the coach candidly discuss their lack of conditioning.
I was just asked the question on who I thought would be the most productive of our 2nd round draft picks and, strange as it is now to say this, I have to admit Fred Davis is distancing himself in that. Strange because it was Davis' sleeping tendencies that suggested, at least early on, that he would be the trouble maker regarding professionalism and mental readiness to play. Yet no word on him lacking conditioning and he's on the field, making catches and moving piles in our preseason opener. That's hollerable behaviour. I am hollering at Fred Davis. Please holler back.
The silver lining here is that even if Kelly and Thomas don't pan out for a minute or two, the coaching staff has three talented tight ends on the roster to pick up much of the slack. Todd Yoder looks better and better -- seriously, have you seen this? -- and Chris Cooley shows no signs of slowing down. Quite the opposite, his professional career to date has been one steady improvement after another culminating ultimately in last year's deserving Pro Bowl nod. There will be plenty of opportunities to pass on 1st and 2nd down with two tight end sets involving some combination of Cooley + Yoder/Davis that will give opposing defenses fits, considering that lineup would also tend to do quite well running the ball. Actually, scratch just 1st and 2nd down, what about 3rd down with Cooley lined up wide and Yoder and Davis as TE (with Moss and ARE likewise out there)? That presents its own unique difficulties and mismatches for opponents that I'd like to see. Who needs more than three receivers?
Also, in case you didn't know, Fred Davis' roommate is emerging blog superstar and Hogs Haven favorite Colt Brennan. And Chris Cooley managed to corner both of them in their room and ask them some "funny" questions (his words -- I think the questions are brilliant). Highlights, though you'll have to click the above link for the full interview as I can't imbed it:
Colt Brennan pees in trashcans and has a high opinion of Eddie Money.
Fred Davis does not get down with 80s music and knows exactly one song from that entire decade (dubious): Pour Some Sugar on Me by Def Leppard.
Clinton Portis' playgirl spread name is Talcum Powder.
The interview is fucking hilarious, go listen to the entire thing, it doesn't disappoint.