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Senior Bowl Practice Report: Day 1

Posted Jan 26, 2016

Team insider Myles Simmons details why Oklahoma WR Sterling Shepard was among the South's standout players in the first practice.

MOBILE, Ala. -- Senior Bowl week is underway, and with it, much of the NFL universe has come to watch practice. Be it coaches, scouts, general managers, or media, there were hundreds of individuals at both the North and South team sessions on Tuesday.

The day began with weigh-ins and measurements, and then the players were able to hit the field and show off why they were invited to participate in the premier college All-Star game. The South was up first, holding practice at Fairhope Municipal Park Stadium.

Coached by the Jaguars’ staff, members of the South team showed some physicality in most of their drills, particularly the one-on-one situations. That goes for the offensive vs. defensive linemen, the running backs vs. linebackers, and the receivers vs. defensive backs.

As the South practice was finishing up, the North got its session started about a half hour away at  Ladd-Peebles Stadium -- the Mobile venue that will host all other practices and Saturday’s game. There, the Cowboys coaches led the players through their first exposure to an NFL staff and practice style.

Despite a little traffic on the journey between venues, we at therams.com were able to take in both practices and have plenty to go over from both.

SHEPARD FLASHES FOR SOUTH

Wide receiver Sterling Shepard was one player on the South squad who caught my eye -- in addition to most of the passes thrown his way.

Shepard was a significant key to Oklahoma’s run to the College Football Playoff, leading the Sooners with 86 receptions for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2015. Those big numbers also landed him in the conference’s top three in each category.

Given his success not only in 2015 but also throughout his college career, it wasn’t a surprise to see him make a number of strong receptions on Tuesday afternoon. He also had an opportunity or two to take an end around out of the backfield.

So what does Shepard want to accomplish in Mobile this week? Find out what he had to say in my one-on-one with him below.

OAKMAN IS A LARGE HUMAN BEING

Remember Shawn Oakman?

If you were on Twitter on New Years Day 2015 chances are you’ll at least recognize the meme that took over the internet.

That now famous picture came from Oakman standing at the coin toss of the Cotton Bowl -- Oakman’s Baylor squad facing Michigan State -- ostensibly the most intimidating figure you can imagine. And, well, his stature hasn’t really changed much in the year since.

Yes, Oakman sported his trademark look at the South practice, wearing his jersey tucked into his shoulder pads. And sure, he looked as intimidating as ever. But that doesn’t mean everything has come easy for the defensive end. Oakman’s production decreased from the 2014 to 2015 season, as he recorded only 4.5 sacks as a senior -- down from 11.0 as a junior.

On Tuesday, therams.com caught up with Oakman and you can see the interview with him below.

EXTRA POINTS

To me, one of the fun aspects of the Senior Bowl is the opportunity to ask players about their former college teammates who now happen to be Rams. Today, former Georgia offensive lineman John Theus had plenty of positive things to say about running back Todd Gurley.

“I love Todd,” Theus said. “Great kid, hard worker. Very talented. Y’all have got a good one for sure.”

Along with a couple other roommates, Theus actually lived with Gurley when the two were freshmen in 2012. As members of the same recruiting class, they got to know each other well.

Theus used that “s” word so many used throughout 2015 to describe what it was like to play with Gurley at UGA.

“It was definitely special,” Theus said. “Todd’s a heck of a player -- a freak athlete. Being around him every day, and living with him some, you see stuff that everybody doesn’t see every day.”

We’ll have more of Theus’ thoughts on Gurley in a full profile later in the week.

If you’re wondering why it’s my face instead of Dani Kluppenger’s for today’s 1-on-1 interviews, there’s a good reason. Dani was in New York today to be honored by Stony Brook University’s 40 Under Forty alumni recognition program. And if you take a short look around therams.com, it’s clear she’s more than deserving.

And so don’t fret -- Dani will be with us in Mobile tomorrow, bringing you quality interviews from both practice sessions.