Ciron Black, Perry Riley, Jacob Cutrera, Josh Downs, Tahj Jones, John Williams, Jhyryn Taylor, and Kellen Theriot were all missing from this afternoon’s practice. Alex Hurst, Tyler Edwards, and Terrance Toliver were all wearing green non-contact jerseys and Trindon Holliday was back at practice this afternoon.
The receivers broke into X and Y groups to work with the quarterbacks at the start of the afternoon. The X group consisted of Terrance Toliver, Chris Mitchell, and Reuben Randle. The Z group saw Brandon Lafell, RJ Jackson, and Chris Tolliver. The two groups ran mostly screens and short comeback routes. D.J. McCarthy stayed with the X group as a cornerback playing bump and run. He commended Toliver on multiple occasions for doing a good job of creating separation. He also got on Randle a few times for not running the route correctly.
After they finished working with the quarterbacks, the receivers each got a ball and stood around in a circle to do figure 8’s and spider drills with the ball between their legs. Russell Shepard joined the receivers during this period.
For the most part the quarterbacks had a relatively easy time throwing to the receivers, considering they only had to throw the ball about 10 yards and could pretty much throw it straight to the receiver. Shepard was the only one having some trouble as there were a few occasions where he led the receiver too much on the screens. After they finished with the receivers, the quarterbacks worked with the running backs on routes out of the backfield.
The defensive line started off practice hitting the blocking sleds before splitting into ends and tackles once again. Brick Haley had the ends working on their pass rushing moves from the edge, and Joe Robinson worked with the tackles on getting off the ball. Chris Davenport was drawing much praise during these drills for the hard chest punches he was throwing against his blocker.
The linebackers spent most of practice working on pursuing option plays and fighting through blocks. Josh Johns was working with the linebackers this afternoon, and he was blocked by Kevin Minter during the reps. Johns had problems shedding Minter to pursue the ball, and at times it looked like Minter was just toying with him. While it was to be expected for Johns to struggle in these drills given he’s still small for a linebacker, it also speaks once again to the level Minter is already at. Harry Coleman performed very well during this drill, drawing some praise from John Chavis and the other coaches.
For the final period the linebackers and defensive backs combined to line-up in their 7 man formations. With Cutrera and Riley still out, the linebackers again consisted of Kelvin Sheppard in the middle, with Harry Coleman to his left and Ryan Baker to his right.
The defensive backs during the final period were Jai Eugene and Patrick Peterson at corner, with Chad Jones at free safety and Brandon Taylor at strong safety. Chris Hawkins backed up Eugene on the left side with Morris Claiborne backing up Peterson on the right. Danny McCray backed up Jones, and Karnell Hatcher was the second string strong safety.
Before teaming up with the linebackers, the defensive backs lined up in their 4 man units to work on basic coverages. While the second string was going through their reps, instead of taking a water break with the rest of the first teamers, Patrick Peterson stayed off to his side to watch Claiborne and coach him up during and after each rep. Needless to say it was pretty impressive to watch Peterson, a sophomore, taking a true freshman under his wing.
And in one final bit of news, Craig Loston was at practice today. He was dressed in normal street clothes watching the defensive backs and linebackers going through their 7-man drills. What that means remains to be seen and we’ll ask Miles tomorrow if there’s any word on Loston’s status.