Thursday Practice Report

After spending the morning with the media, Northwestern players took to the practice field for their fourth preseason practice and second in shoulder pads. The intensity was, again, very heated as players fight for playing time. Get the details from the sidelines with this practice report.

• The Wildcats practiced for approximately two hours and 25 minutes on their outdoor practice field. For the second day, they donned shoulder pads and shorts.

• The beginning of practice consisted of fast paced drills which emphasized fundamentals. Pat Fitzgerald said of these first three days, "I think most importantly, it's about building a foundation of habits.

• Fitzgerald said there are a few themes which they hope are being established in the first week of camp. "Number one, we have installation of what we want to do. Building blocks of what we're going to do schematically as well as fundamentally. For the young kids, (we want them) to figure out who we are and what it means to be a Wildcat, how we practice, and what's expected of them. There are some bad habits from high school that I want them to know are unacceptable around here but the guys have responded well and we'll see how they do tomorrow."

• Things got heated a few times in practice. The offensive linemen and defensive linemen tend to play past the whistle. Later, freshman receiver Christian Jones met with old friend Michael Bolden, who he scrapped with on Wednesday. After getting a little fired up, Jones responded on the field with a great diving catch on a strike from Kain Colter.

Adonis Smith looks like a totally different player this season. He had another big run in ones-against-ones today. He is becoming the total package at running back.

• Freshman running back Jordan Perkins also had an impressive run of his own. He showed breakaway speed on a run to the outside. He was finally run out of bounds while his teammates on the offense exploded in excitement.

• Freshman quarterback Zack Oliver also busted a big run today. As the whistle was blown, Oliver pulled a slow motion spin move which only his fellow quarterback saw. Naturally, they had a fun time with that.

Roderick Goodlow has a nice practice today. He worked in at middle linebacker and was flying all over the field.

• While watching the defensive backs work, I couldn't help but to notice that Hunter Bates was showing great mobility. He missed the entire spring while rehabbing his injury from the TicketCity Bowl. He had the quickest steps of any defensive back. It appears he is back to full strength.

• Senior safety Brian Peters is itching to put on the full pads. Even in just shoulder pads, Peters is bringing his best hits.

• Redshirt freshman safety Ibraheim Campbell showed his skills during a one-on-one matchup with Rashad Lawrence. Campbell stayed with Lawrence and knocked away the pass. The coaches have an abundance of options in the secondary.

• Another interesting note: while official weights for each player have not been released, freshman defensive end Deonte Gibson has bulked up to 250 pounds. He is shaping into the big defensive end that Northwestern coaches had hoped.

• The Wildcats will don full pads on Friday for the first time this summer. Fitzgerald said, "We'll get into some more competitive stuff, work hard, have some fun, and hopefully it will work well."

SIGNING DAY LINKS:
Pat Fitzgerald post-practice
Tony Jones post-practice
Ben Johnson post-practice


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