Yesterday I mentioned how Dominique Zeigler had impressed folks in the early part of camp. While that certainly doesn't meant he'll make the roster, we're always going to get excited when an underdog makes a statement. As previously stated, every training camp sees some unknown (or just lesser known) player make some plays and makes a name for himself with the media. This year is no different and I thought I'd take a look at some of the guys who have impressed so far.
Zak Keasey: Zak Keasey is certainly not unknown and may not even qualify as lesser known. He's spent time on the practice squad over the last couple years and actually made appearances in 13 games, primarily on special teams but also on offense occasionally. I mention him first because he has clearly impressed the coaching staff. When the team has used a fullback, Keasey has seen a majority of the first-team action over previous starter Moran Norris. Also, Mike Martz had some interesting comments when chatting with the media yesterday:
"I think Zak has a real good feel for getting through traffic and getting on linebackers and DBs as a blocker. He's unusual that way. It's kind of a lost art, if you will. He sees things and reacts to things very, very well -- very quickly. He's got such good body control, he can avoid and get into little tiny holes and get to a linebacker. It's hard to find guys who can do that. He does that very well. Mo (Moran Norris) is more of a real powerful, get-on-that-line-and-blow-them-up kind of deal. So they're different kinds of fullbacks, but they're both effective."
Considering the fact that there are not an unlimited number of roster spots, I'm curious if the team would keep both fullbacks. Keasey brings special teams value, which is certainly a plus for him. Throw in the fact that the fullback is not exactly the most utilized position in the Martz offense and it leaves me wondering if Moran Norris might see his time with the 49ers coming to an end.
Josh Morgan: Again, not an unknown guy, but somebody I thought was more destined for the practice squad. I've read nothing but good things about Morgan going back to June OTAs and they continue into minicamp. MM said about Morgan:
There is competition at the wideout spots. The competition right now is for spots on the team. As Mike Nolan said, the question is who are the five receivers? And, then, do they have a sixth who should make the squad.
My opinion: Josh Morgan makes the team. But Ashley Lelie better back in a hurry or he's going to have a difficult time making the final roster.
Morgan continues to shine. When asked what kind of impression he's making, Morgan answered, "I'm not sure -- hopefully a good ones."
He's getting a lot of reps and -- to the untrained eye -- does not appear to be doing much wrong. Seems like he has a decent grasp of the offense and he's catching most everything in sight.
I can honestly say at this point that I'd rather add Morgan to the roster and cut ties with Lelie. Realistically, Lelie would be no more than the #4 receiver on this roster behind Bruce, Johnson and Battle and maybe ahead of Jason Hill. All things considered I'd rather just roll the dice with Morgan as the #5 and give Hill reps as the #4 receiver. Maybe Hill and/or Morgan don't pan out, but right now I think we all realize the limited upside of Lelie. Consider me officially on the Morgan over Lelie bandwagon.
When I began this post I was hoping to discuss the likes of Lewis Baker, Louis Holmes and Brian De La Puente among others. Barrows and Maiocco have pointed out that they're looked good in practice. Unfortunately there has not been anything beyond that. If anybody has seen or heard anything about some of the undrafted free agents, we'd all love to hear more. Holmes and Baker are both practice squad candidates as I think the numbers game would keep them off the 53-man roster. I'd imagine they'd have to absolutely blow up to make the roster. And even then, they might need an injury to somebody ahead of them.