"I think we played faster as a group," Offensive line coach Bob Connelly said. "I think we're starting to come together. It was obviously disappointing when Antoine went down."
"He's one of the best players if not the best player up front right now athletically. But what it's going to allow me to do allow me to get Marlon Davis and some of those other guys some quality reps and if they can get onto, the quicker they can learn the system the better I will feel about putting them out there in a game situation. I'm not overly concerned because I think we've rule out everything major anything major and we're very hopeful that he'll come back sooner rather than later."
Marlon Davis is one of a handful of offensive linemen who are getting new looks at providing depth on the offensive line. Taylor Britt is another player who has stepped up his play recently, working at both center and guard.
B.J. Stabler had arthroscopic knee surgery before spring training, and is still experiencing swelling that keeping him out of some practices.
"We're having to monitor B.J. Stabler with his knee and he's not practicing every day twice a day. His reps are limited," Connelly said.
Stabler said he has had to have fluid drained from his knee this fall.
"I get fluid in my knee every now and then but it's alright. I just have to work through it," he said. "They drain it out and I come back to practice the next day and work hard and earn a spot."
The injuries to Caldwell, Cody Davis (hamstring) and Stabler (knee) are not expected to be serious, and it's possible that Connelly could have more quality players to choose from than he did a year ago.
Last year, Caldwell and Stabler were out off the mix early after each had surgery early in the year, and there was a big dropoff after the first unit.
"We're mixing and matching quite a bit because guys are getting banged up and injured here or there," Connelly said. "It's forcing me to put some of the young guys in who normally wouldn't get this many reps. There's no doubt in my mind with those young guys that they're capable physically. We just have to make it to where they recognize what we're doing, understand their schemes and they can play fast. Right now there's a lot of thinking going on and as a result we're not playing fast and it's showing up."
Cody Davis has been out of practice throughout the entire fall camp, but Coach Shula expected to return to action next week. His absence has put a damper on what was expected to be a tight battle for the starting left tackle postion.
"If you're not practicing you're not getting better and that's a major concern of mine," Connelly said. "I was very hopeful that he and Chris Capps were neck-to-neck coming into this thing and what he's done is provide Chris Capps to get more reps which is going to make Cody that much more behind.
"It's just the nature of the game. It's hard to get better without reps. You have to get out there and do it with flying bullets around. The speed of the game is where you're going to get better."