2. A new and improved Ed Oliver
Defensive tackle Ed Oliver has had a hot start to training camp. Oliver has accounted for multiple sacks in just seven practices and had at least one during Monday’s practice. The defensive tackle is playing with a comfortability and freedom to him to start season number four because of his teammates around him.
Oliver said linebacker Von Miller has been a huge help for his confidence and the group as a whole, but it’s about more than just Miller because the entire unit is playing great ball in camp.
“Don’t get me wrong, not only Von (Miller) but like Greg (Rousseau) and his growth, Phil (Jordan Phillips) being back, DaQuan (Jones), AJ (Epenesa), just all of us rushing together and getting a feel,” Oliver said on why his game has improved. “It’s not just Von. Von can only do so much. But just us as a unit coming together and just rushing. It don’t matter who’s winning, but is everybody in position? Is everybody ready to make each other right? And that’s the thing about this camp that has really been standing out. So what if one guy is winning, it’s all four of us winning.”
Oliver is right. While he has had an impressive camp, so has the entire defensive line. If there’s one position group who has really popped through one week, it’s them. In Monday’s practice, the defensive line picked up a few sacks and batted down two passes. Defensive linemen Daniel Joseph and Prince Emili batted down back-to-back passes from Matt Barkley. Linebacker Matt Milano also picked up a sack.
The offensive line has still been without some important pieces, but it’s made for a great opportunity for that position group to get stronger while they have fewer players.
Several teammates have noticed Oliver’s improvements early in camp. Head coach Sean McDermott thinks it has to do with his approach this season.
“He continues to get better every year,” McDermott said. “His attention to detail, his approach year-round, I’ve seen that grow which is natural for a player in their developing years, years two, three and four in particular. I’ve seen him come into camp in shape and with a hungry attitude and approach on a daily basis. So, I think he’s off to a really good start this camp.”
Oliver added to center Mitch Morse’s comments on Saturday when Morse said Oliver and Miller playing on the same side is basically cheating. Oliver agreed but said he thinks it’s even hard for an offense when they are on opposite sides. The DT said it’s nice to play with a superstar who appreciates your craft.
“You got Von, happy to play with you, excited to play with you, excited to have you side by side going to war with you. That just means a lot to me and just helped me as far as confidence wise and knowing that I can count on him, and he can count on me.”