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Mason's Mailbag: Drafted rookie runners impressing

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Cravens is dealing with knee soreness, which has kept him out of practice and will prevent him from playing against the Vikings. Head Coach Vance Joseph said Aug. 1 that he had "the same exact injury" as tight end Jeff Heuerman, who has also been sidelined.

When he returns, you can expect him to primarily work as a sub-package defender, where he will be involved in coverage on tight ends and running backs within 10-15 yards of the line for scrimmage.

"He is a natural player in the box," Defensive Coordinator Joe Woods said. "I know he was more of a hybrid linebacker in college and that’s what he played for the Redskins, but right away you can see how quickly he can fit inside. He’s a good underneath cover guy. 

"The biggest thing to work on with him is playing deep defense. He really hasn’t played it a lot, so it’s just going to take time to develop them."

While there have been tweaks to the overall approaches, the biggest alteration came on the offensive line, with Sean Kugler working with the centers and guards, leaving Chris Strausser to handle the tackles. The result is a sharper approach for players in regards to their spot.

Left tackle Garett Bolles did a good job breaking this down after Thursday's practice.

"We really just get a breakdown to our position and really focus on that, instead of just doing different things all of the time," he said. "We actually get the practice that we need if we’re working against tackles or if we’re working against a nine technique [defensive end]."

Mile High Stadium was the site of the longest measured home run in the history of professional baseball, a 582-foot bazooka blast to the second level of the left-field stands on June 2, 1987 by Joey Meyer of the Denver Zephyrs, the AAA affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.

I don't know if this is a fact that "few people" know, but it is my favorite fact about the old stadium.

Who are you expecting to surprise you the most in the running back battle?

-- Jason Terman

Based on what I've seen from the running backs over the last two weeks, I don't think any of them could "surprise" me, per se. All have shown flashes of brilliance. However, relative to my expectations before OTAs and training camp, seventh-round pick Dave Williams has been the biggest surprise.

There have been occasions in practice where third-round pick Royce Freeman will make a beautiful cutback and gallop through a big hole, and then Williams will do nearly the exact same thing one to three snaps later with a similar outcome. While they are not exactly the same -- Freeman runs closer to the ground, while Williams is a bit more upright has a longer stride in the open field -- they are similar enough to where you can see the potential for them to platoon and allow the offense to maintain its style and expectations.

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