Bulldog Spring Practice Notebook

Three Bulldog veterans were held out of practicing Wednesday, two of them for a second day. DT Kaleb Eulls has a heavy wrap on the lower right leg, while DT P.J. Jones wears that very familiar protective boot on his left leg. Both did some conditioning work and a lot of watching.

They were joined by TE Brandon Hill, who also has a lower leg in a boot today. But after missing much of Tuesday, WR Shelby Christy was participating in drills for day-two. Not, however, in 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 work.

*There was no change on the first offensive line, nor was any expected. What will make things more interesting in the first unit is the return of OG Justin Malone to the mix. Last season's opening-day starter is taking a controlled comeback from the foot injury, and since those feet support 320 pounds caution is wise.

So OG Jamaal Clayborn is doing extra work as left guard on both the first and sometimes second teams. The usual second line so far is RT Jake Thomas, RG Devon Desper, C Archie Muniz, LG Kent Flowers, LT Cole Carter. The third unit is RG Rufus Warren, RG Rodney Lacy, an unknown walk-on center, LG Jocquell Johnson, LT Justin Senior.

*At receivers in the base four-set, WR De'Runnya Wilson works on the same side as the slot-man which is of course Jameon Lewis with the first unit; while WR Robert Johnson is the other split end, typically with either a slot tight end (TE Malcolm Johnson first and foremost) or the blocking tight end. The second such unit has WR Fred Brown on the slot-side with WR Jeremy Chappelle; and WR Fred Ross split out alone.

It's hard to call what Lewis is doing in early spring ‘impressive' after all his excellent and often dramatic catches in real games last season. The better way to put it, this senior has picked up in practices where he left off in Memphis by making his quarterback(s) look good.

But many times so did Wilson. He hauled in a high toss from QB Damian Williams, and saw a lot of balls from the other quarterbacks as the day progressed. This despite Wilson not looking full-speed. He did have a minor groin issue during his basketball season; and after going down on a play he came up grabbing at the lower back. But each next-play Wilson was back in the rotation and running the route.

The most dramatic grab was probably by redshirt WR Gabe Myles, as he was able to twist in-stride and stick up a hand to snare from QB Damian Williams. Moving him from cornerback is the right career move, for sure.

*It wasn't dramatic in the same way. What R.Johnson did on two of his catches was absolutely impressive in showing how confident his quarterback is in the senior. In pass/skell, QB Dak Prescott unloaded for a specific spot on the field even before Johnson had begun to make a move. Johnson cut outside, then curled back in a bit at the left-numbers, and finally looked up for the ball…which was coming into his ready hands at the time.

During a team-on-team period Johnson's experience again showed. When the primary receivers wasn't available Prescott immediately looked for #12. Wisely, as Johnson found a crease and got just far ahead enough of CB Cedric Jiles and CB Will Redmond—both corners chasing one receiver—for a 15-yard catch.

*He's listed as the #4 running back now, and taking most work there. But this doesn't put WR Brandon Holloway out of the receiver role. Not only did he run routes out of the backfield, but in five-wide sets Holloway flanked all the way out to a sideline. RB Josh Robinson does the same, of course. Holloway made it work for a fine catch on a short route, then slipping the single defender for more gain.

With the offensive emphasis on passing so far, there are a lot of balls for the picking (off) in camp. None were intercepted on Tuesday but that changed on day-two as CB Taveze Calhoun got to two. In 3-on-4 drills, Calhoun saw—even before the ball was released—that QB Nick Fitzgerald was going to be a little late on the throw. Which he was, as the pass to the numbers was behind Myles. Calhoun got in position for the easy interception.

Later in full-team work it was Williams he victimized, though receiver Myles might have run the route a step farther than necessary. Either way again Calhoun was positioned for the easy catch and this time he ran it back for ‘six' and a little in-your-face celebrating.

Not all the interceptions went to Calhoun or were thrown by young quarterbacks. Even Prescott was guilty as LB Beniquez Brown got in front of the intended receiver (WR Jeremy Chappelle) for a pick, too.

*Turnovers aside, Fitzgerald continues to impress with arm strength and release. His timing with targets is what needs work though. After being picked by Calhoun in that period, another throw was batted down and almost intercepted by MLB Benardrick McKinney.

And the arm is indeed strong. During pass/skel, Fitzgerald broke the frame holding one of those three teardrop-shaped obstacles used to obstruct the passer's field of view. Fitzgerald drilled it from about four yards away.

*Punting was in action for the first time, and P Devon Bell looked in season form already. He crushed all his kicks, a couple clearing 50 yards on the fly, and the shorter ones (none less than 35 yards) with fine hang time.

*Fielding the punts were Lewis, CB Will Redmond, Myles, CB Cedric Jiles, with wideouts coach Billy Gonzales fine-tuning hand placement on catches.

*With S Jay Hughes still limited after the bad Achilles injury of last year's opener, S Kendrick Market and CB-turned-S Justin Cox are the first pairing; S Deontay Evans and S Kivon Coman the next two. For now the reserves are Tyrell Miller and Brandon Wells.

*Day-two was again no-contact, and that was just as well for RB Nick Griffin. In 11-on-11 he took a quick pitch from Williams, started to cut, and found LB Zach Jackson ready to blast him at chest level. Jackson had to back off of course, but it took an effort to resist the clean shot.

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