Tuesday Practice Report

The Wildcats continued to prepare for the Big Ten opener as they practiced inside for just about two hours. Get the latest from Evanston as Northwestern gets set for their conference-opening game with the Illinois Fighting Illini.

• On a rainy, dreary day in Evanston, the Wildcats spent their morning practice inside the Nicolet Center practice field.

Northwestern finished up their practice 15 minutes earlier than they had originally planned. Pat Fitzgerald said this was one of the fastest-paced practices the team has had.

• As the offense took to the line of scrimmage, the sounds of Illinois music blared from the speakers, giving the quarterbacks a challenge of making live adjustments.

• Fitzgerald said after practice, "We're getting consistently back into our routine." He also added there is a bit more intensity as conference play arrives.

• Fitzgerald told the media that he "fully anticipates" Persa will play on Saturday. To no surprise, Persa took the majority of reps with the first-team offense.

• For the first time all season, I can admit to being very impressed with Persa's footwork in each drill. His mobility has returned, and he looks impressive. He has passed my worthless medical clearance test.

• Stock Up: Former walk-on wide receiver Mike Jensen. He has worked his way into the two-deep for this week. Pat Fitzgerald praised Jensen's work ethic. You may see Jensen be targeted a few times this Saturday and beyond that.

• Redshirt freshman linebacker Collin Ellis made his return known to Mike Trumpy. On a carry to the outside, Ellis pursued him and delivered a crushing hit.

• Fitzgerald said of Ellis's return, "I'm excited for him individually, but more excited for us as a team."

• Ellis talked about Saturday's game. He said, "It's a big in-state rival and we're excited to go out and compete."

Jack DiNardo was back to action after missing two games. He mentioned how beneficial the bye week was for an extra week of rest.

• DiNardo also said the entire team didn't hang their heads down after the loss to Army. "I think we can only grow from that experience," said DiNardo.

• In yesterday's press conference, Jordan Mabin said he thinks freshman wide receiver Christian Jones can be one of the best receivers in Northwestern history. Jones showed off his skills in practice with an impressive catch as he was being tightly defended by Ricky Weina. Jones is slotted in as a co-starter for this week, though Persa appears to have a good comfort level with the freshman.

• Jones wasn't the only impressive freshman, running back Treyvon Green continues to show his worth in the offense. He has an impressive knack for finding the hole, and showed that off in practice today, as he followed a blocker and ran by the first-team defense.

• The play of the day came from Evan Watkins, who was running toward the endzone with just Ibraheim Campbell in sight. Watkins pulled a quick stutter-step and scampered in for a touchdown, as his teammates celebrated behind the play.

The week of preparations continues as the Wildcats return to the practice field on Wednesday morning. PurpleWildcats.com will continue to get you set for gameday with a practice report, post-practice video, and more.

Pat Fitzgerald post-practice
Collin Ellis post-practice
Jack DiNardo post-practice

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