Quick hitters: Day 8 morning practice

LSU has a week of fall camp in the rear view mirror. Go inside for the scoop from Friday morning's practice.

For the first time since camp began last Thursday, rain forced the LSU football team indoors.

On Friday the TigerSportsDigest.com staff was on hand for the four, 5-minute sessions the media was allowed to observe, and here are some quick hitters from the morning.

--- For the first time this camp, sophomore cornerback Tyrann Mathieu was absent. Others names of note missing were offensive guard Will Blackwell, offensive tackle La’el Collins, tight end Chase Clement, wide receiver Armand Williams and fullback J.C. Copeland.

--- Terrance Magee, who missed the majority of practice during the first week of camp, was out of his green no-contact jersey and back with the running backs. Head coach Les Miles and offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa have talked up Magee plenty after the freshman tore apart the 7-on-7 workouts during the summer. For now, Magee is in a battle with Michael Ford, Alfred Blue, Jakhari Gore, and Kenny Hilliard – who could see reps at fullback. While running backs coach Frank Wilson has yet to name his starter, the assumed starter is sophomore Spencer Ware. Magee’s field vision and athleticism – he can double as a passer – are two things that will help push him to the field in a hurry.

--- Jarvis Landry also returned to action, but unlike Magee, Landry kept the green jersey on his back. But for the first time Landry put on shoulder pads and a helmet, signs that his recovery process (stress fracture in his foot) is ahead of schedule. Before camp, Miles figured Landry would be held out until the third week of practice – meaning Landry is about a week ahead of schedule. Landry wasn’t wearing any protective covering on his foot or ankle, and he appeared as smooth as ever when running his routes. The freshman should be back to full strength in time for the season opener Sept. 3 against Oregon.

--- Junior Josh Downs returned to the defensive line rotation after he missed practice Thursday. From talking with defensive line coach Brick Haley earlier this week, I expect Downs to be the starting tackle alongside Michael Brockers, and Sam Montgomery and Ken Adams will be the first names to the field at defensive end. The main problem for Downs has always been wear-and-tear. Haley stressed that he would need to keep Downs healthy all year, something that hasn’t happened in his first two years with the program.

--- The defensive backs, working without Mathieu, practiced jumping for the pass at its highest point. Defensive backs coach Ron Cooper had quarterbacks Stephen Rivers and Jared Foster throwing fly routes, and names that drew praise from Cooper were Eric Reid, Brandon Taylor, Ronald Martin, and Ron Vinson. Other members of the secondary were on the receiving end of an early morning verbal attack from Cooper. “Keep your eyes on the quarterback!” Cooper screamed. “How many times do I have to tell you this? You are playing zone, not man.” Vinson had a great one-handed snag, and Martin’s ability to leap and snag the ball is a clear indicator of time spent on the basketball court. As for Reid, does a safety get more promising? Physically Reid is in the best shape of any defensive back, and the sophomore didn’t drop a ball during drills and was vocal with instructions for his teammates. Earlier this week, defensive coordinator John Chavis said Reid, despite his age, would call the plays on the field and work the other defenders through their checks.

--- The Big Cat Drill had a pair of noteworthy winners: Freshman transfer Elliot Porter over freshman Jermauria Rasco and freshman receiver Paul Turner over senior cornerback Ron Brooks. With the departure of Cameron Fordham from the program, Porter has seen reps as a back up at both guard and center.

The Tigers will return to the field for an afternoon practice and Miles will meet with the media afterward in advance of Saturday’s opening scrimmage of camp.

Keep following us at TigerSportsDigest.com. All camp stories can be found in a file titled ‘The hub: 2011 LSU fall camp,’ and we’re also continually updating stories and video from Media Day, which can be found in a file called ‘The hub: 2011 LSU Media Day.’

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