Play(s) of the day/MVP(s)
Cornerback Kevon Seymour and wide receiver Brenton Bersin downplayed their respective plays, but those standing closest to what could qualify as the two top plays of training camp told the story with their reactions.
Worley’s leaping interception in the end zone versus red zone beast Fozzy Whittaker drew effusive praise from Worley’s fellow DBs. Moments earier, Bersin’s spectacular backpedaling grab didn’t elicit the same response from the DBs, but you could tell they were a bit abuzz about it.
“They don’t want to give me any props,” Bersin said. “Just like the offense doesn’t want to give them any props.”
Bersin already was the leading candidate for our daily Offensive MVP before the play, having made a nice grab in red zone drills and a snag over the middle in team drills. Rookie wide receiver Fred Ross had a productive day as well, but Bersin’s catch put him over the top.
Bersin said it “was easy to make a play” thanks to Joe Webb’s nicely thrown ball and the fact that cornerback Jeff Richards hadn’t yet turned around. Worley similarly downplayed his pick, though in reality getting the best of Benjamin in the red zone is never an easy feat.
“I was just playing my assignment,” Worley said. “Can’t let him get outside of me knowing that we’re deep in the red zone. You don’t have much room to go. You’ve just got to be able to make a play on the ball. Turnovers and field goals is what we talk about in the red zone.”
Worley was already on his way to daily Defensive MVP after breaking through for a “sack” in the first two-minute drill of camp (see below) and locking Benjamin down in the end zone another time.
Among players that didn’t practice Sunday, offensive tackle Dan France was the only one to fully return Tuesday following the players' day off. Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (hamstring) did practice for the first time in training camp but was limited, failing to convince defensive backs coach Curtis Fuller to put him in for even individual drills.
Quarterback Cam Newton again didn’t throw in an effort to take it easy on his sore, surgically repaired shoulder, and left tackle Matt Kalil (groin) sat out a second consecutive practice. Head coach Ron Rivera labeled both situations as a case of simply being smart/cautious.
Wide receiver Curtis Samuel, cornerback Corn Elder and defensive tackle Kyle Love remained out, joined by tight end Scott Simonson, linebacker Jared Norris and safety Travell Dixon. Defensive tackle Kawann Short took what may have been a vet day.
Additional practice notes
Worley may have gotten the best of Benjamin in the end zone twice, but only after Benjamin reminded folks how hard he is to stop down there. When the wide receivers and defensive backs lined up against each other in the red zone for the first time in training camp, a defensive coach told his guys to not allow anything over the top. But on the first snap, there wasn’t really anything cornerback James Bradberry could do about a perfect loft to Benjamin. The assistant coach tried to say from across the field that “Benji” was out of bounds, but he was not.
It also was a mixed bag in the red zone during the first two-minute work of camp, with the defense making a stand when the first-teamers clashed but the offense stepping up in subsequent drives. The first-team offense, headed by quarterback Derek Anderson, advanced 40-plus yards but found itself at the 20 with just 10 seconds left. Two shots to the end zone were thwarted, first by a Worley breakup and then good prevent defense that led to a pass linebacker Shaq Thompson batted away.
Bersin’s catch got the second-team offense moving, and Ross capped it off with a 14-yard touchdown strike from Webb to Ross. The third team under Garrett Gilbert wasted little time finding the end zone, with rookie Austin Duke beating newcomer Damian Parms for a 35-yard score.
Running back Christian McCaffrey had a rare drop but on balance continued to thrive in the short passing game. Linebacker Thomas Davis nearly broke one up over the middle for McCaffrey but couldn’t quite get there, to his obvious disappointment.
Undrafted rookie cornerback Cole Luke continued showing a nose for the ball, stripping a receiver after a reception. Quite a ways downfield, however, center Gino Gradkowski hustled to make the recovery.
Rookie kicker Harrison Butker made all his field goal attempts as they got progressively longer – until the end. The first of three kicks from 53 yards was true, then one from the left hashmark from the same distance inched over the crossbar. The final boot, from the right hashmark, however, bounded off the crossbar and fell just short.