For his honeymoon tour, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jordan Palmer experienced some of the islands’ most fun outdoor activities — golf, bow hunting, the surf and, the past two days, the University of Hawaii football team’s passing offense.
"I expected (the Warriors) to have good quarterbacks and good receivers, and they did not disappoint," Palmer said of his workout sessions at UH’s Ching Athletic Complex.
With the Bengals’ training camp opening next week, Palmer, a backup to older brother Carson Palmer, wanted to extend his Hawaii honeymoon while finding time to keep fit.
"My wife knows that," he said, smiling. "I have to make some money."
After learning that Palmer would be training on the Manoa campus, several players volunteered to help.
Palmer said he was impressed with the receivers, particularly senior slotbacks Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares.
"Greg has a lot of talent," Palmer said. "He’s easy to throw to. He’s a big guy (6 -foot-2) who gets it, ‘get it’ meaning he understands football, he understands routes. I say ‘come flat on this,’ he knows what I’m talking about. He seems like a real cerebral player. I’ve known him for only two days, but it seems he knows every route, every position, every coverage. Guys like that have a real opportunity to make it in the NFL."
Salas said Palmer preached running hard on every play.
"If you run a 4.7 (over 40 yards), always run a 4.7," Palmer said. "If you run a 4.5, always run a 4.5. Greg plays at full speed. I’m sure if you put on his game tapes right now, I’ll see him running full speed on everything. And, obviously, he makes catches."
Palmer likened Pilares to Chad Owens, a former UH slotback now with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. Palmer, who played at UTEP, faced Owens’ Warriors a few times when the Miners were a member of the Western Athletic Conference.
"Kealoha is a shorter guy (at 5-10), but he’s really quick, just like Chad Owens," Palmer said. "He had good hands. He looks like he’s really good (running) after the catch."
Palmer said Salas and Pilares are both skilled technicians.
"They catch everything only with their hands," Palmer said. "A lot of times in the NFL, a lot of guys still use their body to catch passes. They get a little lazy. Greg and Kealoha have good work habits."
Salas said the 45-minute sessions were helpful.
"It’s good to talk to someone who’s at the next level," Salas said. "He gives us a lot of insights on what we need to work on. He helps you with the little things."
Pilares said of Palmer: "He’s in the league. He knows the ins and outs. He knows what he’s talking about."
Lafaele provides boost
In a revised version of the "Be Like Mike" program, former UH defensive tackle Michael Lafaele yesterday was summoned to provide an emotional boost.
"We needed a little wake-up call," said defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga, who called Lafaele. "He was the alarm."
Lafaele worked with the defensive linemen yesterday, showing them how to use their hands to fight off blockers.
"He was a big influence on me when I was a freshman," said Meatoga, now a fourth-year junior. "He taught me about hard work. He had the attitude of a D-lineman. He didn’t care about anybody but his boys. He went out and killed offensive linemen."
Lafaele said: "I told them the defensive line is the heart of the defense, the heart of the team. They have to control the line of scrimmage, take pride in that kind of stuff."
Defensive tackle Kaniela Tuipulotu remembered Lafaele’s performance in 2007, when he played despite a painful ankle injury.
"He was hurt, but you couldn’t tell," Tuipulotu said. "He kept playing hard. He was an animal out there. You can’t ever second-guess a guy like that."
Lafaele, who works for a marketing company, said his football career has ended.
"Look at him," Meatoga argued. "He’s in shape. He probably could suit up right now if he had to."
For more Hawaii football, visit the Warrior Beat blog.