Before suffering his second ACL injury in as many years, he played 36 snaps in five games and recorded five tackles at the WILL linebacker spot.
Steward, now a sophomore, is expected to be back in the mix before
preseason camp opens in August. That's when Venables will have a better
idea where Steward fits.
"We'll just wait and see. I've got to see him, functionally, how he
operates and what he can do. Instinctively, where he's comfortable --
it'll be MIKE or WILL," Venables said.
With Stephone Anthony out for the rest of the spring with a finger injury,
Spencer Shuey is now working with the first-team at MIKE.
"He's done well. He's got a good feel for what we're doing. He can carry
his pads well, is physical, does a good job communicating," Venables said.
Justin Parker, who continues to work at both MIKE and WILL, logged three
tackles in 33 snaps last season.
"He's talented, has good length. He's explosive. He has a natural feel for
it, finds the football, carries his pads well," Venables said. "I'm
excited about his future and the progress that he's made in a short amount
Corico Hawkins and Jonathan Willard are competing at WILL while Quandon Christian and Lateek Townsend are in the mix at SAM.
As a whole, Venables is pleased with what he's seen from the linebacker
corps this spring.
"I think they've definitely improved in their knowledge and fundamentals
and technique and their understanding with what we are doing," he said.
"We are still a work in progress and have a lot of things to work at but
I've been pleased with their attitude and the improvement we have made."
LATEST ON THE D-LINE: DeShawn Williams, Tavaris Barnes, Grady Jarett and Josh Watson continue to
be the top four options at defensive tackle.
Venables said Tra Thomas has made some strides with Tavaris Barnes missing
the last couple of practices because of a death in the family.
"Tra Thomas stepped in there and did some positive things," Venables said.
"I really feel like we've got four, maybe a fifth guy that could play for
"If their backs are against the wall, I think they'll respond. I've been
very encouraged with that group and what coach [Dan] Brooks
has done with those guys."
UP NEXT: Consistency. That's what Venables wants to see the rest of this week,
through Saturday's spring game.
"Communication, positioning, technique, to pad level, being physical,
being on edge with a mentality that you want to win every rep in practice
-- having that type of respect for the game," he said. "I want them to
like to come to practice. I want them to like to see knowledge in the
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