Thursday features an abbreviated session

With the major injuries suffered by wide receiver TJ Simpson and cornerback Omar Bolden recently, it wasn't surprising to see coach Dennis Erickson cut practice a little short on Thursday to keep his guys fresh, and most of all, healthy.

When key players go down, as a coach you have to feel a little worried, and Erickson was following Saturday's scrimmage saying how it makes you almost not want to practice. While not practicing is obviously out of the question, ending it early may be the smart thing to do.

"A lot of energy today," Erickson pointed out. "We cut it back a little bit, which I'm going to do the rest of spring. We've been out there a long time, two hours and twenty minutes; we were out there about an hour thirty-five and had a lot more energy. I thought we practiced well, one of the better ones we've had."

Even in the short session, junior linebacker Vontaze Burfict ended up sitting out the second half, causing many watching to wonder what exactly is going on with this team, but coach Erickson was quick to dismiss any rumors of injury to his starting linebacker.

"He just got a very mild sprained ankle," Erickson mentioned. "Obviously you see something like that after what has happened the last couple of weeks, but that's all it is."

Take a breath Sun Devil fans.

With Bolden out the search for his replacement has begun, and while Bolden's talent is tough to replace, the cornerbacks as a whole have been very impressive this spring.

"I don't think that thing will be settled for a while," Erickson mentioned. "The guy who is playing well is Spann. He's a talented young guy and probably would've played for us last year had he not had that sickness. We've always thought he was talented and now he's stepping up and the last two or three days he's been very good, but he does have a lot of talent. Osahon (Irabor) is playing extremely well. We'll be fine. We've got four or five guys that will play there. We'll be fine."

One option for Erickson and his staff to discuss is what to do with sophomore defensive back Alden Darby. Darby began his Sun Devil career as a cornerback, but has played exclusively at safety this spring and has played well.

"When you start looking at position changes you have to look at two things," said Erickson. "You've got to look at if you're hurt in the area that you're moving the guy from, and do you have guys at corner that he's going to beat out.

"The way we sit right now we fee like we have three or four that can play there and he's (Darby) playing really well at safety and he's just learning that because we've moved him around so much. So we're going to keep him there but obviously that's a move that if something were to happen down the road that we can do."

Another player affected by the recent injuries is senior wide out George Bell who's been erratic this spring following a very disappointing season. With Simpson out of the mix now, Bell, as well as J.J. Holliday stands to see more passes coming their way.

"He's got to become more consistent," Erickson declared. "He's got a lot of talent. He made some catches out there today that were fantastic and he dropped one that was right in his hands. He understands what he has to work at, and to me that's more focus than anything.

"He can run and he's got good hands, I look for him to have a good year, he'll get better and better all the time."


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