Thursday, several key performers were missing from action, including running back Bilal Powell, wide receivers Troy Pascley and Scott Long, defensive linemen Zack Kiernan and Tyler Jessen, linebackers Mozell Axson and Antwon Canady and offensive lineman Ryan Kessling. Defensive tackle L.T. Walker was also absent from practice.
The injuries meant opportunities for others. During 11 on 11 action, junior college transfer Malcolm Tatum, Greg Scruggs, Rodney Gnat and walk-on Dominic Lagone comprised the first team defensive line. Gnat and Lagone were the tackles with that group. Tatum made an impressive tackle of running back Victor Anderson behind the line of scrimmage during 11's.
During 7 on 7 skeleton drills, Richard Raglin intercepted Will Stein. The tight ends also made several nice catches, including grabs by Rock Keys and Stephon Ball – though Cameron Graham dropped an easy one coming over the middle.
True freshman wide receiver Andrell Smith had a solid outing on Thursday. Blessed with good size and sticky hands, Smith caught a few TD passes in the one-on-one red zone passing drills. He also hauled in a couple balls during 7 on 7's. Smith did have a freshman moment letting and Adam Froman pass slip through his hands for an interception by corner Ageyi Williams.
Speaking of Froman, he took the first snaps with the first team offense during 11 on 11's. Froman might have had his best passing day of the week on Thursday, looking much sharper from the start of practice to the end than he has through the first week of practice. Still, it's hard to see much separation between the four primary prospects. Tyler Wolfe, Justin Burke and Zack Stoudt all made some nice throws during practice.
With Bilal Powell out with injury, Darius Ashley is getting more reps in practice. He's proving to be an elusive running back with shifty moves and reliable hands out of the backfield. Ashley made an impressive catch out of the backfield and made a nifty spin move that made two defenders miss tackles in 11's.
The Cardinals return to the practice field March 24. The March 24 and 26 practices will be the final one's open to the public before the spring game on April 17.