|COMPLETE DAY 1 COVERAGE|
There were some changes to the way U of L head coach Bobby Petrino conducted the team's first practice of the new season. While there are always new drills put into the always up-tempo practice schedule, the Cardinals fourth-year head coach was more hands on - working directly with individual players and spending time with the different units.
One notable difference was the way the special teams drills were conducted. New Special Teams Coordinator Tom McMahon, who joined the U of L staff after eight years as a Utah State assistant, has mixed things up and is giving the kicking and punting teams a new way of doing things.
The story of day one has to be the notable presence of senior offensive lineman Renardo Foster. Foster has struggled with both a knee and back injury since the 2004 season, but the lengthy and difficult rehab seems to have paid off.
The 6-foot-7, 322-pound tackle moved extremely well and showed no signs of his previous injuries. He made many take notice of his return about halfway through Wednesday's practice while participating in line drills. Foster was a force during the one-on-one drill and quickly took the opposing defenders to the ground.
Foster told InsideTheVille.com following his first full day out in months that he believes that the struggles of his injuries are behind him and that he's about, "90% - maybe 100%."
Wearing the yellow jersey - meaning hands off - junior quarterback Brian Brohm took part in some one-on-one drills, participated in skeleton (no contact) drills, ran with a harness with trainer in tow and worked with the medicine ball.
"It felt real good out there," Brohm said of his knee following Wednesday's practice. "I wasn't having any problems and it felt good dropping back."
The Big East Conference's Offensive Player of the Year also reported that he felt no pain while dropping back to throw.
"There wasn't any pain while I was dropping back, so I felt real good," he said.
However, despite the attention to his knee from media, coaches and fans alike, the Louisville Trinity product said that he's just excited to be a part of practice for the first time since late November.
"It felt great to finally get back on the field and be apart of everything and being out here playing football, because that's what I love to do."
If you glace quickly at #92 you might swear that NFL-bound Montavious Stanley is still on the team. At 6-foot-4, 310-pounds, junior college transfer Willie Williams fits the jersey. While an imposing sight, it's clear that the defensive tackle is still coming to grasps with the defensive schemes and how the practices are conducted.
He spent his day primarily working with the second unit alongside Earl Heyman, with Maurice Mitchell and Jonathan Holston on the ends. Plenty of upside - and competition - for the mid-year junior college transfer.
Senior running back Michael Bush seemed to have a smile from the moment he walked onto the field through the end of practice. The Louisville Male High School product enters the spring period in great shape and a little trimmer.
"I've been doing the same thing since day one," said Bush of his approach to his last spring practice. "I'm coming out working hard and now I'm eating right so it feels good."
As for the smile - he was simply having fun.
"It wasn't too tough - we're not in pads yet," he said. "It was fun to get out here with everyone today though."
What he liked after the first day of practice?
"I was looking at the offensive line and to me they did a good job."
Star in the Making
There has been a lot said about the potential of Georgia Tech transfer Pat Carter and on Wednesday the junior from St. Petersburg, Fla., showed why he's so highly thought of.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Carter spent time working both as a receiver and quarterback on Wednesday. His passes were crisp and on target, while he caught nearly everything thrown his way. Oh, and by the way, as mentioned above, he also returned punts.
"That's difficult because you wonder how he's going to get better at one position," said head coach Bobby Petrino of Carter's multi-position practices.
It was long ago that Fern Creek High School product Mario Urrutia was struggling with Offensive Coordinator & Receivers Coach Paul Petrino's receiver drills. Now after a couple years in the Petrino system, Urrutia has become a new person on the practice fields.
The team's top returning receiver is quickly becoming a leader among the talented and deep squad. On Wednesday the 6-foot-6, 228-pounder went through the fast-paced drills with focus and helped motivate those that may have been struggling.
Jason Spitz, who had 37 consecutive starts on the Cardinals offensive line, was among the crowd on Wednesday. Spitz is rated among the top five offensive guards by TheNFLExperts.com for the upcoming NFL Draft.
Future Cardinal Aundre Henderson was also on hand for the first practice of the spring period. The 6-foot-4, 290-pound defensive tackle followed the defensive line around for nearly the entire practice.
Louisville St.X High School running back Vic Anderson was one of the first to arrive on Wednesday.