Malcolm Koonce has spent a great deal of time over his football career studying what some of the great pass rushers did to get to the quarterback.
The second-year pro has now expanded his focus to learn some of the tricks offensive linemen use to stop them.
“I feel like I’ve been a lot more focused on their techniques, how protections work and what their plan is to block against a defensive lineman,” Koonce said after Thursday’s practice at the team facility.
The defensive end hopes all of the work in the classroom will translate to more success on the field after recording two sacks in five games as a rookie last season.
But Koonce, a 2021 third-round pick out of Buffalo, won’t measure himself by the stat sheet.
“I don’t set goals number-wise,” he said. “My goal every day is just being able to leave the day satisfied with what I did. The (preseason) game we played, my goal wasn’t to get ‘x’ amount of sacks or this amount of tackles for loss, it was just to go out and play the way I know I can play and be comfortable knowing I did my best.”
He has great resources around him to help him reach those thresholds.
Koonce said teammates like Maxx Crosby, Tashawn Bower, Tyler Lancaster and others have all provided tips and tricks that will help him become a better player.
Chandler Jones, however, seems to be one of his most valuable mentors.
“It’s dope,” Koonce said of learning from Jones, who has 107.5 career sacks. “It’s cool to see because to me it feels like he’s been in the league forever, so it’s cool to pick his brain for just like the little things I don’t notice. But he can see something will work way better with just a little tweak. That stuff happens all the time, but it also happens with Maxx and everybody else in the room.”
Carr not concerned
Star tight end Darren Waller once again missed practice on Thursday and has not been on the field since July 30.
It’s unclear exactly why he isn’t practicing, but quarterback Derek Carr said the missed reps can be made up.
“If I’m honest, I think they always matter,” he said. “But there is definitely a comfortability in the chemistry and timing. You know, ‘Throw it five more yards in front of Darren because he’s so fast.’ That kind of thing.”
Even though he’d prefer to have Waller on the field, they have plenty of experience to fall back on.
“I never want to say we have it because there’s stuff him and I can always grow in,” Carr said. “But I have thrown him 200 or 300 balls in games or whatever it is and countless thousands in practice, so there is a workload there so that when he comes back out, it’s normal.”
Offensive tackle Thayer Munford had another solid practice as he continues to state his case for a roster spot and even playing time.
He said he was glad to see his fellow linemates fight back against the defense on Tuesday when a pass-rushing drill elevated into a brief skirmish.
“100 percent,” Munford said of whether he liked seeing his fellow offensive linemen take a stand. “But football is football. We’re in the middle of the camp and it’s getting hot. Tensions start to go. That’s just camp.”
Kyle Peko briefly left the field during the outdoor session, but it was just to treat cramps.
Offensive tackle Brandon Parker was once again absent after appearing to suffer a significant arm injury in Thursday’s preseason game.
Defensive end Clelin Ferrell missed practice along with linebackers Divine Deablo and Kenny Young.
Cornerbacks Rock Ya-Sin, Anthony Averett and Cre’Von LeBlanc also continued to sit out.