As we arrived the team was just getting into their stretching. Not a lot of verbal stuff going on. Brian Smith continues to make a lot of noise during the stretching, but that was about it. Pretty windy and cold out there today.
There was a big OL recruit at practice. I believe it was Patrick Ward, but I'm not certain.
Once the team broke stretching it was pretty much the same drills. Angel and I focused on the receivers for the most part.
The receivers were heard groaning as they took their turn through the gauntlet. Rob Ianello was chipper as with the cold wind, and the gauntlet, that meant pain.
The good news is I didn't see a single receiver drop the ball or struggle running through the gauntlet. I do think the arms could've probably been going a little quicker, as they seem to be when the backs go through, but all caught the ball quite well.
Robbie Parris might have had some surgery, but he does look thicker than last year. Seems to have added some good weight. I did notice Golden Tate doesn't look like he's gained that many pounds. Not sure he's the listed 190. He'll need to add a few more pounds. He still looks to be the quickest of the bunch out of the wide receivers. Golden did bobble a pass in the square catching drill they do, but that was about it.
Richard Jackson looks thinner. He looks like he's reshaped his body a bit. He looks to be in much better shape than I've seen previously. It's probably his last chance to shine, and it looks like he's made the most of it.
George West and David Grimes pretty much look the same size they always have. Neither appears to have added a lot of weight, although West looks quite a bit thicker than Grimes. I'd say the 175 is accurate for Grimes. I'd say about 190 for West. Grimes, for whatever reason, doesn't appear able to add much weight. But if he can make plays with his quickness, he should be fine.
All the receivers caught the ball well in the drills I saw. And it was cold and windy. Seemed to be moving quick as well. Some good effort out there.
We also watched the linebackers a bit. Jon Tenuta is not one to mince words. He'll let you know how he feels no problem. He was getting on all the linebackers pretty well, but you can tell he commands respect and it's given.
The linebackers were mainly working on proper tackling technique, and "going downhill."
Once again, Kerry Neal was working with the DL and not the linebackers.
Thanks to a nice day (finally) practice was outside at Cartier Field. The team was in full pads. I also saw a refereeing crew, so I believe there was a scrimmage, although if it came it was after we left.
The players seemed to be excited to be outside, although DE Justin Brown was still feeling cold. "Man, it's chilly outside today," he said.
Kallen Wade was back in practice today.
Corwin Brown walked over to LB/DE John Ryan who is wearing a green, no contact jersey due to injury. "What's up John Ryan? How you doing?" As he tossed him a piece of gum, Brown said, "Here's a little something for you."
Coach Mike Haywood was looking on very focused, not saying much.
Tenuta and Jappy Oliver were engaged in another lively discussion about something.
Jappy was giving some of the players a hard time on how he was going to work them hard today.
I was standing next to Brian Smith, who was paired with Justin Brown during stretching. The whole time the two were joking around and bantering back and forth. "These damn knee braces," Smith said about the braces on both his knees.
Weis came over to give Smith a hard time about being in the "breakfast club." I've heard some of the players giving Smith grief about being disciplined for something he did, and as a result, he has to show up around 5 a.m. at the Gug for workouts.
Ron Powlus was again working closely with Jimmy Clausen during stretching.
The players huddled up and shouted "ND on 3."
I went over and watched the defense. They first worked as a unit on the pursuit drill. They lineup in their formation, and Jappy acts like a QB and snaps the ball. Once the front seven converge on the "QB", Jappy points to one of the sidelines sending a separate ball carrier up the field with the defense chasing after him.
Emeka Nwankwo has seemed to have gotten bigger in the off-season. He's got the height and added a substantial amount of weight as well.
Tenuta was standing in the defensive backfield watching the pursuit drill. "Holy balls!" he yelled as the second team took long to get set up for the drill.
John Ryan was one of the ball carriers in the drill and got a head start so no one would catch him. "Real funny, John" Tenuta said sarcastically.
"Hey Ian, you know what you're supposed to be doing?" Tenuta barked at Williams.
"Kevin, get your hands off your thigh boards," Tenuta said to Kevin Washington.
The DBs, LBs and DL split up to work on separate drills. I saw the DBs for a bit working on their backpedal. Corwin was working closely with them, instructing them on the proper technique.
"Down, Gary Gray. Stop drifting," Brown said to the cornerback.
Ray Herring messed up his footwork, and Corwin made him do it again.
"Come on and get down. You guys move like old men," Brown said to the third team.
"Don't cheat. Do not cheat. Do what the f*** you're supposed to do," Corwin said starting to get frustrated.
"You guys have to react. Learn to react."
I then walked over the the LBs, working on their departure angles. Tenuta was especially lively and swearing left and right.
"I don't want to see your elbows outside. Where in the f*** do you think I want to see your elbow?" he asked one of the players.
One thing I've noticed about Tenuta is that he makes the players do it as close to perfect as possible, or makes them start over and run the drill again. Brian Smith learned that the hard way and had to repeat the drill a couple of times.
It is a bright, sunny, yet cool, day South Bend. The Irish were in full pads and practiced outside for the first time this spring.
Lots of chatter and enthusiasm during the stretching and warm ups.
Coach Weis was moving from line to line and at one time yelled out, "You had better be in good spirits now because you won't be after this practice."
Coach Bernie Parmalee was kidding with Kevin Brooks and told him to be ready because he might just put him in there. Later Parmalee laughing asked him if he had ever seen the movie Mr. Brooks.
Coach Haywood was up and down the lines making comments to several players.
When it was time for the position drills, Coach Ianello had the receivers catch the ball and then cut right or left through the blaster.
Coach Ianello was yelling for the receivers to make good, quick cuts and hit the blaster full speed. He often called out to keep low, full speed, keep the ball tucked in tight. Some of the receivers had to repeat their turns.
Coach Haywood started the backs off as usual running over the bags and cutting between them. He reminded them to go full speed and hold onto the ball.
The backs then went through a pass-blocking drill with the backs holding up a bag about chest high then moving laterally in this position for approximately 10 yards.
The backs next did a one-on-one blocking drill. They would start about five yards deep and pick up a supposed defensive lineman/linebacker.
There was some hard hitting taking place and Coach Haywood repeated over and over, "You have to love contact to play this game."
The coaches clinic is this weekend and the next open practice for the media is Saturday morning from 7:30-9:30 in Loftus.