NORMAN, Okla. — The Oklahoma football team returned the practice fields on Monday morning for a spirited two hour and 45 minute workout in full pads.
It was also a very intense workout, and that was not surprising to OU Head Coach Bob Stoops.
"It was good, physical practice like we've always had," said Stoops. "I'm sure the players felt, or at least some of them anyway, that they needed to make a statement after the scrimmage on Saturday. That's really nothing new in football. We, as coaches, always know that we'll have a pretty good practice after a scrimmage."
It was also a practice for some of the Sooners' walking wounded to return to action.
Linebackers Clint Ingram and Wayne Chambers returned and went through several of the drills. Cornerback Antonio Perkins was also back and worked with the first team at cornerback and returned punts and kick-offs.
One player who continues to impress is wide receiver JeJuan Rankins. The sophomore from North Carolina has taken over the starting spot for the injured Will Peoples and hasn't looked back. Rankins did drop one pass, but had another big practice this morning with three touchdowns in the red zone drills.
Bob Stoops has compared Rankins' moves to those of Joe Washington before, and he didn't shy away from bragging on him again after this morning's workout.
"The bottom line is JeJuan is just a pretty good football player and he's having a great camp," said Stoops. "He's got the capabilities of making some big plays. He's going to be a player for us."
"I think I'm a better player than I was last year. At least I hope so," said Rankins.
Rankins, who played several different positions in high school, says playing just one position at OU has helped his development.
"I can just concentrate on wide receiver and learn all the little things about being a wide receiver," Rankins said. "Every position has it's own unique aspects about it, and it's good that I'm really learning what this is all about."
"I'm whatever the team wants to be," Rankins continued. "My ultimate goal is to catch the ball and score a touchdown."
Running backs Kejuan Jones and Renaldo Works continued to split time with the first team offense on Monday, with works getting the first reps in every drill. Donta Hickson and Jared Estus both split time with the second team.
True freshmen tight end Joe John Finley might just be working his way into some playing time this year. The Arlington native threw a massive block during Saturday night's scrimmage to help spring a Kejuan Jones a a screen pass, and he continued to get some work with the varsity on Monday.
Sophomore center Chris Bush is still working with the first team line at center and guard as a backup. The only knock on Bush right now is his deep snap. Bush struggled Saturday night snapping the ball out of the shotgun and those woes continued this morning.
In the inside drills, the No. 1 defense really focused on doing a better job of covering the flat routes and bootlegs and limiting them to short gains. Teddy Lehman, Pasha Jackson, Donte Nicholson and Brodney Pool all did well in coverage.
Junior defensive Brandon Shelby is a guy who doesn't get many press clippings, but he just continues to produce and make big plays. Shelby looked great again this morning in the team drills and batted down a couple of passes. Shelby will definitely play in the Sooners' dime coverage, and he could also be playing his way into some time at free safety in OU's nickel package.
The Sooners also went through a spirited contact drill that pitted OU's linebackers in one-on-one battle against the offensive linemen. Gayron Allen got praise from OU LB Coach Brent Venables in this drill after he destroyed David Walker.
"That's the way to show everybody how to use linebacker technique," Venables yelled.
Other notbables from this drill...Brett Rayl drove Clint Ingram out of the box. Pasha Jackson struggled to win his battle with Davin Joseph, but then again who doesn't?. Vince Carter looked good overall and fared well against Demarrio Pleasant. Lance Mitchell suited up, but did not go through many of the full contact drill.
The Oklahoma offense worked a lot on the short passing game and throwing to the fullbacks. JeJuan Rankins caught just about everything in sight and Mark Clayton had a nice 20-yard gain on a crossing route. Travis Wilson also dropped a short pass, but then rebounded to catch a nice deep route.
Jason White still got a majority of the snaps with the first team offense. and Paul Thompson also worked with the varsity. Noah Allen and Brent Rawls received limited work.
One interesting note... OU QB Coach Chuck Long and Brent Rawls had lengthy 50 minute one-on-one conversation after practice. It's not known at this time what the two were discussing, but one can only speculate that it could've been about Rawls' role with the OU offense.
The Sooners will practice again this evening, but Bob Stoops says the workout will be closed to the public.
8/18 Morning Practice Report:
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