NC State has practiced the past couple of days without junior T.A. McLendon and sophomore Reggie Davis at running back. Coach Amato said today that he hopes to have both players back at full strength by next week.
"We don't have T.A. [McLendon] and Reggie Davis," Head Coach Chuck Amato said. "Reggie Davis has got a real bad pull. They've been running on the sideline, and hopefully we can get them back in here the first of next week."
McLendon has reportedly performed very well in the early part of fall practice and his hamstring injury isn't believed to be as bad as the pull he suffered last season against Texas Tech.
"I don't want to push the T.A. issue," Amato said. "He's had an unbelievable camp up until that [injury]. He pulled his hammy... it wasn't like it was last year. It didn't snap but he pulled it pretty good."
Freshmen Running Backs Gaining Experience
The injuries to McLendon and Davis has apparently been a blessing in disguise for freshmen tailbacks Darrell Blackman and Bobby Washington. Each is working with the first-team offense and gaining valuable experience early in fall practice.
"This is just getting those two freshmen a ton of reps... a ton of reps, and they need it all," Amato said. "It's the best thing that could happen for us and for them. We know what those other two guys can do right now, and it's not that we don't need them in there, not by any means."
Both freshmen appear to be progressing nicely and should receive plenty of playing time this fall.
"I think it's been great," Amato said. "They've shown spurts... they both are very fast. They both can catch the ball well, which is so important in our offense. I think they are coming along real good."
"They really have shown some spark... they've got a burst," Amato added.
Although McLendon and Davis aren't practicing full contact, both have taken leadership roles and are helping the freshmen adapt to new situations.
"I think the thing that has helped them is Reggie and T.A. not being in there," Amato added. "Those two guys are back there coaching them. We have 8,000 people coaching running backs. We've got Coach Portee, we've got Josh [Brown] right now, we've got T.A., we've got Reggie."
With the two injured backs set to return early next week, it should be interesting to see how the practice reps are divided and who emerges as McLendon's backup.
Cornerback is a Strength in '04
The experience is there for the cornerback position to be a strength this year. With seniors Dovonte Edwards and Lamont Reid tabbed the starters and red-shirt sophomore A.J. Davis returning after a solid freshman season, NC State has enough depth to move Marcus Hudson to free safety.
"We've got three guys that are very seasoned," Amato said. "We felt that we could take Marcus and get him reps back here in the secondary at the safety position. He's got such great range when the ball is in the air."
Davis and Edwards both arrived at NC State with lofty expectations. Davis was considered by some gurus to be the top cornerback in the country his senior year, and Edwards was North Carolina's top high school wide receiver prospect in '00.
Amato likes what he's seen from both in-state products.
"A.J. gets better every day he practices," Amato said. "Dovonte has been a leader. He really has worked himself into being a dadgum good corner. We're pleased with both of them."
Williams to Return by Monday
Wolfpack players wear pink jerseys when they are injured and unable to go through full contact.
NC State junior tight end T.J. Williams has been wearing the dreaded pink jersey for nearly two weeks now, and it's about to finally come off.
"T.J. will come out of the pink I believe on Monday if I'm not mistaken," Amato said. "He's done everything except he's got a pink jersey on."
As a sophomore Williams had 28 receptions for 444 yards and was tabbed an honorable mention All-ACC selection. He'll likely be the safety valve for NC State's new quarterback and should be back just in time to have two full weeks of practice before the September 4th season opener against Richmond.
"That will give him two weeks before the first game to get it all in there," Amato said.
Second Scrimmage Set for Saturday
NC State's second scrimmage will be Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and is closed. Media will have access to players and coaches following practices.