Friday Practice Report: Vereen Returns

The Bears went through Friday's early afternoon practice in shells, but endured very light contact. The good news for the football team seems to be that gorgeous summer weather has finally arrived and is here to stay. Even better news for Cal was the return of junior running back Shane Vereen from a hamstring injury…

While Shane Vereen did not endure any sort of physical contact, the sight of Vereen running plays with the first team offense – in shoulder pads – brought a smile to head coach Jeff Tedford's face.

"[Vereen] stopped, cut, and planted well," said Tedford. He further indicated that Vereen would "definitely" be ready to go full-speed by next week. Earlier this week, Tedford stated that the aim for Vereen's return to live practice would be Monday, and all indications are that Vereen will be ready to endure contact in preparation for Cal's home opener September 4 against UC Davis.

While all the focus has been on the health of Vereen, another member of the backfield also dressed for the first time in shoulder pads today. Junior fullback Will Kapp ran plays with the offense on Thursday but – like Vereen – donned the shoulder pads for the first time this camp, and ran plays with the second team offense.

Tedford indicated that Kapp is on pace to return to full speed by next week, as well. Kapp, who suffered a concussion during an offseason conditioning drill, came into camp as the projected starter at fullback. Sophomore Eric Stevens has been getting the reps in Kapp's place, and has earned the praise of the coaches.

In other injury news, sophomore guard Matt Summers-Gavin (bone bruise) is no longer using the assistance of crutches to move around and is no longer walking with a limp, which is a welcome sight for Cal fans. Tedford said that Summers-Gavin is "moving along." The indications earlier this week was that Summers-Gavin is about seven to 10 days away from returning to practice.

Senior Richard Fisher, who is backing up Summers-Gavin at left guard, suffered a minor hip injury that should keep him out a couple of days. Sophomore Brian Schwenke received the first team reps at left guard on Friday, perhaps giving a hint to the depth chart on the offensive line.

On the defensive line, senior Cameron Jordan (shoulder) returned to practice on Thursday, while senior Derrick Hill (knee) continued to sit. Tedford said that, due to the physical nature of a nose tackle, Hill must be brought along very carefully. With that said, Tedford also mentioned how happy he is with the depth at nose tackle provided by sophomores Kendrick Payne and Aaron Tipoti.

Cornerback seems to be the one unit that is still unclear in terms of who will start, though Tedford has reiterated that he has been extremely pleased with the players developing at the position.

"You have Marc Anthony and [Steve Williams] really competing for one corner, and you have [Bryant] Nnabuife and [Darian Hagan] on the other corner," said Tedford. "All four of them have had their times when they [have played well]."

Tedford also praised sophomore Josh Hill, who has made the move from cornerback to safety.

"[Hill] does a good job," said Tedford. "He has a great understanding of what we are doing and, as much as anything, of directing traffic back there. He understands what is going on, and to get other people in the right position. A lot of communication goes on back there, and he's been really solid."

Hill has received extra reps at safety since projected starter junior Sean Cattouse went down with a hamstring injury. As of now, Hill is also competing with junior D.J. Campbell and senior Chris Conte for reps at safety.

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