A camp phenom, as discussed in an earlier post, is a player who creates a buzz in training camp. He is generally a rookie who was drafted late in the second day or not at all. Or perhaps it is a guy who has bounced around a few training camps looking for a chance.
Whoever he is, he starts to get noticed. At first he is completely anonymous. At some point in the first few days of training camp he makes a great catch or a loud hit. Then the head coach, and his unit's coordinator and position coach start to mention him by name. The reporters, always looking for a fresh angle, run stories on this newfound talent. Fans at training camp make sure to spot the phenom and trace his every move. Then the preseason comes around and the phenom makes some plays. Sure, they're mostly against future truck drivers but that's irrelevant in the life span of the phenom. Half to three quarters of the fan base is convinced that he is a future star.
Sometimes, as with Larry Brown, the phenom justifies they hype and goes on to a long and successful NFL career. More often than not, through, the flaws in the phenom's game that caused him to go undrafted or to have difficulty latching on to a team catch up with him and he wind up getting cut. His legion of supporters swear that the decision will come back to haunt the team for years to come.
Over the next few day's we'll look at some of the candidates to be this year's Marcus Mason (sorry, you only can be a phenom for one preseason) or Justin Skaggs. And please note that I'm not predicting that any of these players will end up being released like Mason, Skaggs, and Babe Laufenberg did at the end of their respective phenomenal summers.
Robert Henson may have been drafted a shade too high to be considered phenom material but out of this year's second-day selections he has the best shot. The former TCU linebacker has the speed to make spectacular plays. Henson has been learning all three linebacker spots so he will have plenty of opportunity to show his stuff.
On top of all of that, the guy is a pretty good football player. He was a starter on a TCU defense that was ranked in the top 10 nationally. He's a special teams demon, always a good attribute for a phenom.
The more I look at him the more I wonder why he lasted until the fifth round. I think that by the middle of August many others will be wondering the same thing.