First Day In Pads, Minus Zac Robinson

STILLWATER - After the short turnaround from Friday night to Saturday's practice and the busy day full of media interviews and signing autographs, the Oklahoma State Cowboys returned to the practice field Sunday for the first practice in full pads in preseason camp. The biggest news was starting quarterback Zac Robinson wasn't dressed out in full pads.

Robinson, who apparently tweaked his hamstring in Saturday's practice, was in helmet, shoulder pads, and shorts and alternated between the stationary bike, throwing passes, and observing drills (mental reps).

"He just has a little pull," said head coach Mike Gundy of his star quarterback. "He gets those at times. He had one this summer. He's had some throughout his career.

"It really gives us an opportunity to work the other guys anyway, so I'm not really concerned about that. So, if he doesn't feel right, we'll let him go through the mental part of it and let the other guys get in the heat of the battle."

One other injury was noticed as third-team center Casey LaBrue is still out there but is sporting a boot on his lower right leg.

Media and fans like to make a big deal about the addition of the pads and pants, but honestly, practices have been plenty physical starting with day one when no one was wearing pads and picking up with the addition of shoulder pads. However, there is a little difference and it was evident in the Oklahoma heat raining down on the grass practice field.

Gundy kept most of the work thud conditions, no tackling. Overall, he seemed quite pleased with the practice.

"I thought it was a very good practice today, in all phases," said Gundy. "I thought we did a really nice job in working on punt team. I thought defense and offense both competed.

"We were in full pads and it was a very physical practice. It wasn't take them to the ground, but sometimes guys go to the ground in a practice like today. We had a really good practice because we were only out there an hour and 10 minutes, but we really got a lot done. If we have 20 more like those then we'll be ready to play in a game."

Gundy was right as the practice was physical with the offensive and defensive linemen picking it up a notch in the trenches, and to be honest there were wins by both sides in different places. One thing is for sure, it is not fair for anybody on the defense to have to go up against Russell Okung. There is a reason the NFL has him penciled in for one of the top few spots in next year's NFL Draft.

"It felt great, just that first play you get to hit somebody physically and you just release and get out all the stress and all the tension," said Okung. "It feels good."

Okung is one of those guys that is so nice off the field but truly takes on a different mentality on the field. One of the defenders that is winning battles is Richetti Jones at defensive end, and defensive coordinator Bill Young has noticed.

"I don't think there is any question he (Jones) is better," said Young after the Sunday practice. "Now, we're nowhere near the finished product and he isn't the finished product.

"Our goal is to just try to get better each day. We're starting to develop some depth and some players are starting to come on, younger players that were a little lost in the spring like Nigel Nicholas and people of that nature, and they are starting to understand what we are asking them to do."

Overall, the other defenders seemed to have a good time. The linebackers left the practice field with a smile on their face. It seemed to be a little more fun in full pads for them.

"The only difference is we won't get into any trouble if we take them (blockers and ball carriers) to the ground," said middle linebacker Orie Lemon. "I was just out there hitting and it felt good to me. We were doing pretty well and at the beginning the offense wasn't hitting us with any trick plays and we all ratted up and got the job done as a defense, as one."

Monday is the last day for fans to catch any of the practice action. Another full pad session begins at 4:45 p.m. Monday, and fans will be invited to check out the first hour. After that practice, the remaining practices in fall camp and during the season are closed.

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