MOBILE, Ala. — The third and final day of practices for the 70th Reese's Senior Bowl is in the books after expedited sessions that finished before coming close to the allotted time.
Players on both squads looked much more comfortable with their coaches, teammates and the schemes, allowing the North team led by Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden and the South team led by 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan to push tempo.
The North squad hit the field at 12:30 p.m. on a bright, crisp — cold in these parts, but late September-y for Minnesota — day.
The South team followed at 3 p.m., and the final horn sounded less than 90 minutes later.
Here are four takeaways from Thursday's sessions:
1. Rapid improvement
Gruden participated in a media scrum after practice and said players "improved a lot," particularly on the offensive line.
The participating coaching staffs are tasked with trying to get two sets of five guys to play as cohesive units, and there has been interest by many teams in the battles up front this week.
Several holes opened for running backs during a team run period that were big enough for backs to reach the second level.
Gruden said the improvement in run blocking could be heard and was "pretty cool to see."
2. Covering ground
Shanahan managed to work in goal-to-go and walk-throughs of two-minute drill scenarios during the quick practice, enabling players to have exposure to reps through potentially critical components of Saturday's game.
South tackle Tytus Howard, who created some buzz this week out of Alabama State by holding his own against players from bigger schools, hurt his hamstring during a drill.
That left three tackles for the two-minute drill. Andre Dillard (Washington State) had three of the four series at left tackle. Dennis Daley (South Carolina) had one at left tackle and one at right tackle. Oli Udoh (Elon) went through three of the series at right tackle.
3. No jersey, no problem
Texas A&M defensive tackle Daylon Mack's jersey got ripped clean off during a 1-on-1 rep with Mississippi State center Elgton Jenkins.
Those accustomed to watching NFL don't see defensive tackles wearing No. 34 that Mack will sport Sunday, but it was even more of a site to see Mack work through the rest of practice in his bare shoulder pads.
4. Seibert dials long distance
We mentioned South kicker Cole Tracy's impressive bounce back on Tuesday after a pair of misses.
On Thursday, the former LSU kicker's counterpart on the North, Austin Seibert (Oklahoma) delivered some big kicks.
Seibert was 5-for-6 in team drills, making kicks from 33, 42, 45, 51 and 53 at a rapid pace. He was wide left on a 48-yarder that was his fourth attempt during the sequence.
Gruden also gave Seibert an opportunity for a long walk-off field goal moments after getting his squad together to watch three pass-rush reps against offensive linemen.