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Mayock: 5 linemen impressive in first Shrine Game practices

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Rick Scuteri/Associated Press
Stanford's David Parry opened some eyes during the first day of East-West Shrine Game practices.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Opening day of East-West Shrine Game practice was Monday, and NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock came away impressed with five linemen from the two practices.

The East team practiced early Monday afternoon, while the West practiced later in the day in rainy weather.

Mayock said he liked the aggressiveness of two East offensive linemen, Miami's Jonathan Feliciano and Louisville's John Miller. Feliciano (6-foot-5, 325 pounds) played guard and tackle for the Hurricanes, and showed off his versatility at both positions Monday.

Miller (6-3, 315) never redshirted and was a four-year starter for the Cardinals. Miller blocked for Atlanta Falcons rookie running back Devonta Freeman and protected Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato as a senior at Miami's Central High in 2010. He can be a road-grader in the running game and improved as a pass protector this season.

In the afternoon session, Mayock was impressed with three West defensive linemen: Stanford tackle David Parry, Purdue end Ryan Russell and Northern Iowa tackle Xavier Williams.


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Parry (6-2, 305) is a squatty guy who is quick off the ball and has good strength. He flashed during every drill Monday. Russell (6-5, 265) has a nice skill set -- he toasted Florida State tackle Bobby Hart in one drill with a nice spin move -- but his technique can be sloppy and he was not consistent at Purdue. Williams (6-2, 308) had a high level of production for an interior lineman; he had 93 tackles, eight sacks, 14 tackles for loss, three pass breakups and two blocked kicks this season for the Panthers.

Date: Saturday, Jan. 17
Time: 4 p.m. ET
TV: NFL Network


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Eight other things we learned from the first day of practice at the Shrine Game:

2. Michigan's Devin Gardner has some work to do at wide receiver. Gardner is trying to make the move from college quarterback to NFL wide receiver, and the change is starting at the Shrine Game. Gardner had an uneven first day, and he wasn't helped by a sore hamstring (he twice needed medical attention). While he did see time as a receiver at Michigan -- he had 16 receptions for 266 yards and four touchdowns in 2012, when Denard Robinson was the wolverines' starting quarterback -- right now he basically is a high-level athlete trying to learn on the fly. Gardner has good size (6-4, 216), speed and elusiveness, and his physical attributes could lead to a team taking him in the late rounds as a developmental prospect.

3. Old Dominion's Tyler Heinicke had the best day among the quarterbacks. Heinicke is listed at 6-1 and 210 pounds, but appears a bit shorter, and his arm strength is an issue. Nevertheless, he threw for 14,959 yards and 132 TDs in his career, including 3,476 yards and 30 TDs this season, ODU's first as a full-fledged FBS member. In addition, he finished his career with 16,279 yards of total offense. He was asked to do a lot in ODU's up-tempo attack, and he did it all with aplomb. Heinicke definitely had some zip on his passes Monday, and he said he was pleased with his decision-making and his ability to work from under center (ODU almost exclusively used shotgun sets). He also did it all in front of his family, who attended the practice. Heinicke, who has spent time working with Jeff Garcia in San Diego, has some upside as a third-day prospect because of his production and cerebral nature.

4. East head coach Mike Singletary is hands-on with his linebackers. Singletary is an Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker, and the East linebackers got a lot of personal instruction from him Monday. Early during the practice, Singletary chided Michigan's Jake Ryan about needing to get lower in his stance. Later, he personally demonstrated what he wanted in terms of footwork to Louisville's Deiontrez Mount. Mount (6-5, 246) was overshadowed at the position at Louisville by teammates Lorenzo Mauldin and James Burgess, but he is a good athlete with big-play skills (five sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss) who remains somewhat raw.

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5. North Dakota State RB John Crockett likes to talk. Crockett (6-0, 215) helped North Dakota State win its fourth consecutive FCS championship Saturday afternoon in Frisco, Texas, a Dallas suburb. He flew to Tampa after the game, arriving at around 3 a.m. Sunday, he said. But he certainly didn't appear tired during Monday's afternoon practice, when he could be heard chattering good-naturedly after -- and sometimes during -- plays. He said other players told him they enjoyed his talkative ways, and he admitted that he had some fun talking with (and about) players from big-name schools. "It's fun to bang around and run around with them big boys," said Crockett, who vowed to continue his garrulous ways all week. Besides being talkative, Crockett is talented. He ran for 1,974 yards and 21 TDs this season, and finished his career with 4,309 rushing yards. Crockett also is a solid receiver and looks to be a third-day selection.

6. Bowie State TE Khari Lee hopes to cash in on his good fortune. Lee was a late selection for the game, taking the roster spot of injured Louisville tight end Gerald Christian on Sunday. Lee played in Saturday's Medal of Honor all-star game in Charleston, S.C., then returned to Atlanta, where he had been working out. When organizers called looking for a replacement for Christian, it was determined Lee could get to Tampa easily. Lee (6-4, 235) is a good athlete who led Division II Bowie State with 34 receptions (for 389 yards and a TD) this season. He carries his weight well and showed off good hands during practice. Lee, who originally was a walk-on at the Maryland school, aspires to be a real-estate agent, but he might have to put off that career goal for a while.


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7. There was a lot of cross-training among offensive linemen. Versatility is a big selling point for linemen, and numerous linemen were moved around Monday. Toledo's Greg Mancz was an All-MAC player at both guard and center during his college career, and played both spots Monday. Western Kentucky tackle Cam Clemmons (guard), Northwestern center Brandon Vitabile (guard), Indiana guard Collin Rahrig (center), Florida State tackle Bobby Hart (guard), West Virginia guard Mark Glowinski (tackle) and Miami guard Jon Feliciano (tackle) all played two positions. Syracuse's Sean Hickey played left tackle for the Orange this season but also lined up on the right side Monday, and his best NFL position might end up being guard.

8. Inclement weather hampered footing, especially at the West practice. It rained before the East practice and it rained even harder both before and during the West practice, and the footing was a bit treacherous at times. Texas running back Malcolm Brown had trouble keeping his feet during a portion of the West practice, and some receivers and defensive backs struggled making cuts.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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