Spring football report card: Practice #5

Cardinal Authority will be there for every University of Louisville spring football practice and have reports from all 14. Here's a daily report card we will do from the practices.

OVERVIEW OF PRACTICE

Held in the Trager Indoor Practice Facility, Tuesday marked the fifth session of spring practice for Louisville. Following the first full contact scrimmage on Saturday, the Cardinals worked in shoulder pads and shorts to begin the week.

Bobby Petrino's request for precision can be found in every aspect of the two-hour practices. When it comes to the on the field performance by his offense, it requires a perfect huddle. How quickly and where you align yourself in the huddle, as well as how it's broken are important. If not properly, it will be done again immediately.

The details matter.

Getting the details correct each time is why Petrino can be found working different areas of the field in practice. At one moment he's working with the center-quarterback snap and the next he's instructing the special teams unit.

Getting the details correct is also the reason that just five days into spring practice the Cardinals have the look of a team that have participated in a Petrino directed practice for much longer.

OFFENSIVE STANDOUT

Gerald Christian arrived at U of L as a highly-touted tight end. The product of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., known as a great pass-catching tight end with solid blocking skills, was a U.S. Army All-American and a four-star prospect as a high school senior.

Last season as a Cardinal, Christian (6'3, 245) was a key member of the offense, including in the passing game, catching 28 balls for 426 yards and 4 touchdowns. This fall he will fill an even larger role for Petrino's offense.

"A lot more routes," said Christian. "A lot of routes I'm the first read. I am the read, I'm the guy the quarterback is looking for."

To further prepare him for what's to come, Christian has been watching film from some of Bobby Petrino's prior tight ends, including former Cardinal Gary Barnidge and D.J. Williams from Arkansas. He's proving to be a quick study.

His pass-catching abilities have fit perfectly in Petrino's offense. During the first five days of spring ball, he has proven effective in short and deep routes. His size provides an advantage when meeting a would-be tackler.

Not unfamiliar with first team quarterback Will Gardner, Christian is enjoying catching passes from the Cardinals potential starter.

"It's good," he said with a grin. "Will's been throwing some good balls. Strong arm."

DEFENSIVE STANDOUT

Slowed by an injury during preseason camp, defensive end Sheldon Rankins play was limited last season. The 6-foot-2, 300-pound lineman appeared in 10 games last season, registering 15 tackles with 3 sacks. He made his first start of the season in the Cardinals 36-9 win over Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

Rankins entered spring sitting atop the depth chart at the left end position and has performed well. He has the skill set to move along the defensive front and appreciates the opportunity that playing in a 3-4 defense provides.

"I believe it allows my versatility to thrive," he said, further adding, "that me being able to do so much, my talent is able to shine in this defense."

NAME TO WATCH

Much like Christian, sophomore tight end Keith Towbridge will play a larger role for the Cardinals this fall. At 6-foot-5, 265-pounds, Towbridge is an improving blocker and his size is lethal in the passing lanes.

"He's perfect size, ideal tight end," senior tight end Gerald Christian said. "He's very smart and knows the offense."

Last season he appeared in 10 games as a back-up tight end and on special teams.

REMAINING NUGGETS

**There were a number of notables taking in the Cardinals practice. U of L Athletic Director Tom Jurich watched the action from the sideline, while former Cardinals Teddy Bridgewater, Preston Brown and Senorise Perry were also on hand.

Also checking out the early stages of practice was three-star prospect Anfernee Jennings of Dadeville, Ala. Jennings, ranked among the nation's top 50 defensive ends, is a current Alabama commit.

**Wearing a yellow jersey signaling hands off, running back Corvin Lamb does participate in 'no-contact' drills as he continues to rehab from his ACL injury from last season. The junior, who is wearing a brace, is moving well in both the run and passing game.

**Eli Rogers had a solid afternoon catching balls from Gardner. Among his catches on Tuesday were a few perfect spirals for scores.

**Gerod Holliman added his to interception total. The junior safety tops all with (at least) four picks this spring.

**Junior kicker Josh Appleby is helping fill the low numbers at tight end. Appleby, along with fellow junior Luke Brohm, have helped provide depth at a position that currently has two active players on the roster.

**Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Kyle Shortridge had surgery on Tuesday to repair a broken foot.

**The Cardinals will practice again on Wednesday at 4:00p.m.


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