Dion Dawkins will play in his second NFL preseason game Thursday night when the Buffalo Bills visit the Philadelphia Eagles.
The game is at Lincoln Financial Field, where Dawkins helped the Owls win back-to-back American Athletic Conference East Division titles and built his resume towards becoming a second-round pick in the 2017 draft.
He returned to another former stomping ground on Wednesday night when he visited his former teammates at Edberg-Olson Hall. Dawkins sat in on team meetings and discussed his transition to professional football.
“He gave us a great message, great message, and I think it lifted the spirits of a lot of people who didn’t think they were doing too well,” redshirt-senior offensive lineman Leon Johnson said. “I’m not going to get into the details of what he said, but he pretty much across the spectrum let us know, take it day by day.”
Former Temple wide receiver Rod Streater will also suit up for the Bills. Streater enters his sixth NFL season with 127 career catches for 1,755 yards for the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers.
Leon Johnson sees former teammate in starting center
Johnson had high praise for redshirt-freshman offensive lineman Matt Hennessy.
“I see Kyle Friend in him,” Johnson said. “He can move. He’s smart. He communicates well. He’s a leader. He’s strong. He just understands the offense. He’s very much close to Kyle Friend, in my opinion.”
Friend is in his second season of professional football. He signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers in February and is in the team’s training camp.
Friend played in 43 games for Temple, including 41 starts, from 2012-15. In his senior year, he was named to the American Athletic Conference first-team and named to the Rimington Trophy Watch List. The trophy is awarded to the top center in Division I. Indianapolis Colts center Ryan Kelly won the award in 2015.
Hennessy is on the watch list for the upcoming season.
“It’s definitely a good thing because of the leader he was, the player he was and how he helped the offense work,” Hennessy said of Johnson comparing him to Friend. “It was more about just physically how he played, leading and making sure everybody is on the same page, that’s what he did.”
Prior to playing center at Temple, he didn’t have any experience playing the position at Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, New Jersey.
Hennessy credited the competition he faced at Don Bosco and offensive line coach Chris Wiesehan for his easy transition to center. He played in three games last season, including one start against the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Despite his lack of starts, Hennessy isn’t worried about the season opener on the road against the University of Notre Dame on Sept. 2.
“It’ll be pretty exciting, but it’s going to be all about composure and just focusing on us, it’s all about us,” Hennessy said.
Boozer making transition to offensive line
Cole Boozer had been more of a blocking tight end in his first two seasons.
The redshirt senior had one catch for five yards in 12 games in the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Last season, he began making the transition to offensive line, but still played on multiple tight end sets.
This preseason camp, Boozer is playing exclusively on the offensive line, specifically at left and right tackle. With Johnson making his way back from sports hernia, shoulder and hip, Boozer has seen more reps in practice.
Listed at 275 pounds last season, Boozer is up to 295 pounds and feeling more comfortable on the offensive line.
“I’ve picked up on more keys on the defense and such, especially coach [Geoff] Collins’ defense and how different the defensive ends and stuff like that and the linebackers and corners and the safeties and reading all of those people to really see the blitzes that are coming,” Boozer said.
Boozer’s younger brother Evan, a defensive lineman in the high school Class of 2018 from Loyola Blakefield High School in Maryland, committed to Temple in June.
“I’m just glad he’s actually finally coming here,” Cole said. “He had a lot of places he thought he could go and I told him like ‘Hey listen, this is probably the best place for you. You‘ll be close to home.’”
Last preseason camp practice ends with water balloon fight
Thursday’s practice was the last in the team’s preseason camp before a scrimmage at Penn’s Franklin Field on Saturday. Normal team practice begins next week.
Practice ended with a water balloon fight and slip-and-slide with help from the city’s fire department. Players and coaches also enjoyed water ice.
Went to practice and a water balloon fight broke out.. pic.twitter.com/eMeKU2zKye
— Tom Ignudo (@Ignudo5) August 17, 2017