Norman, Okla. — Saturday's practice brought out the shoulder pads for the first time this fall, and unfortunately a couple of injuries.
The most serious at this point appears to be that of sophomore conerback Marcus Walker, who suffered a shoulder injury while covering a crossing route during the 7-on-7 drills.
Sources told OUInsider after practice that Walker didn't not injure the shoulder he hurt last season, and that at this point the injury has been classified as 'a stinger and nothing had to be popped back in.'
"We'll just see what happens," said OU head coach Bob Stoops after practice. "We'll see what they do with it in the next couple of days."
Joining Walker on the injury list Saturday was freshmen offensive linemen Ben Barresi (knee) and Brandonn Braxton (shoulder). The severity of their injuries is not known at this time.
As for practice, the first day in shoulder pads doubled the intensity, and also impressed Stoops.
"The workout was good, but we looked rusty," Stoops said. "It was good because the guys had a lot of energy. I always enjoy it when they are kind or riled up. We have good competition because we have good talent on both sides of the ball. We have a lot of young guys learning a lot. I thought they worked hard and looked good."
Below is a position-by-position look at the highlights from Saturday's workout.
In my opinion, Paul Thompson was the best quarterback on Saturday.
Thompson directed the offense and played almost mistake-free football, while Rhett Bomar threw two interceptions and missed on several passes.
"The quarterback race is a good race right now," said Chuck Long. "It's really early in camp, but it's a good race. We'll be able to tell more in scrimmages. Aside from that, I'm very pleased with what they've done. We can win both of them, and that's the great thing about it."
Thompson did just about everything well. He hit David Robinson for a touchdown pass in the team drills and then heated up in the skelly drills, hitting Jejuan Rankins over the middle, Travis Wilson on a couple of deep curls, and Wilson and Rankins on out routes.
Despite having his struggles at certain points, Bomar did have some flashes. Bomar and freshman receiver Malcolm Kelly seem to have formed a bond, and the duo hooked up several times, once for a 60-yard touchdown.
But at the end of the day, it was just a more efficient performance by Thompson. Thompson directed the offense and didn't make as many mistakes as Bomar, who didn't seem to get anything going on Saturday. But as Chuck Long said above, this race will probably be decided in the scrimmages.
The big news here is that Adrian Peterson didn't practice. Now don't panice, Peterson was at practice but was held out for precautionary measures, which we understand is a minor hamstring issue.
"No pulls, no nothing. Just took it easy today. He's just sore," said Stoops after practice. "We're not giving him time off. It's the third day and he's a little sore there, or a little tight. Why push it and have something major happen that could set him back a longer time?
"There are some guys that we have done that with in the past and held them out of some drills, because the risk of injury can be fairly high. Why chance it when they've proven that they can play? Quentin (Griffin) used to get mad at me all the time. I'm sure AD will get mad at me, but I'm just not willing to take the chance."
As for the backs who were at practice, it was a great day for Kejuan Jones, who continues to show people that he's more than capable of backing up Peterson. Jones ran hard, especially inside, and looked great catching screens out of the backfield.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
The usual suspects — Travis Wilson, Jejuan Rankins — looked good again, but it was a couple of freshmen who impressed on Saturday.
True freshmen Malcolm Kelly and Eric Huggins each had good workouts. Kelly, as mentioned above, hooked up for a big play with Rhett Bomar, and Huggins runs a great fade route with his height and ability to go up and get the ball.
The first team offensive line remained the same for the most part, but Kevin Wilson did do some experimenting.
At one point, Wilson had Chris Bush at center, Kelvin Chaisson at left guard and Davin Joseph at right guard, and Akim Millington at right tackle and true freshman Duke Robinson at left tackle. J.D. Quinn and Chris Chester also got reps with the first team at guard.
The second team battle at center is also an interesting one between true freshmen Jon Cooper and Jesse White. And from what we could tell on Saturday, it was Cooper who got more reps than White at center.
Junior college transfer Brandon Keith did not attend practice today. The reason? We were told he was excused because of a family emergency.
Like Kevin Wilson on the offensive line, defensive end coach Chris Wilson seems to be experimenting with his rotation.
Yesterday, it was C.J. Ah You and John Williams running with the first team, with Larry Birdine and Calvin Thibodeaux behind them. But today, it was Williams and Thibodeaux on the first team, followed by Birdine, Ah You and Alonzo Dotson, who had a great practice.
At defensive tackle, it was still Carl Pendleton and Remi Ayodele working with the first unit, but Brian Simmons and Cory Bennett caught our eye with their impressive play.
Dusty Dvoracek did not go through the contact drills. However, Dusty D's prescence is still felt as he like an extra coach on the field teaching players and encouraging them after every snap when not participating in a certain drill.
Rufus Alexander is back. Whatever he did this summer to earn a spot on the second team to begin fall practice, was only worth two days. And he proved why he belonged on the first team, making plays all over the field and picking off one pass over the middle.
Clint Ingram also continued to build on his great spring with another solid performance on Saturday, especially stuffing the run during the inside drill.
Ingram was also excited to put the shoulder pads on.
"We can just move a lot faster when we have pads. We can actually play the game. You just feel like you can play full speed and have some contact. We're football players, so we want some contact."
True freshman middle linebacker Curtis Lofton also impressed us today. Lofton has great instincts and made several nice plays against the run.
Still worried about the injury to Marcus Walker? Well, here's Bobby Jack Wright and Bob Stoops thoughts' on Walker's replacement at corner after the injury — true freshman Reggie Smith.
"He is as impressive of a young corner as I've ever seen," said Stoops after practice. "Reggie looks like he's been out there for four years at this level already."
"Marcus goes down, gets banged up a little bit, so we threw Reggie Smith in there with the first group and he didn't miss a beat," Wright said. "We are really excited about him. He jumped in there and you would've thought he was a guy that was around here for four years.
"He didn't miss any calls and wasn't intimidated by the fact he was going against the older guys. He competed well and looked like he had been here for a while. That was really encouraging. It wasn't encouraging to see Marucs go down, but hopefully it won't be anything serious. We won't know for a while."
Whether or not Walker comes back, it appears that Smith is going to be given every chance to be a major factor in the secondary this year.
Smith, who was playing the boundary corner behind Eric Bassey and Chijioke Onyenegecha, was quickly moved, along with D.J. Wolfe, to Walker's field-side corner slot after the injury, and both impressed.
Another true freshman that continues to impress is safety Nic Harris, who got some reps with the second unit, alongside juco transfer Allen Patrick, at free safety on Saturday.
"Nic Harris is a guy that I am going to start giving more reps to with the first and second group," Wright said. "I want to see how quickly he can jump into the fray. He is smart, talented, and just brings a physical presence that's not there right now.
"We have some 5-foot-10 safeties out there, and all of the sudden that big joker walks in there at 6-3, 210 and he covered them up like he was a corner. But, it's only the third day."
Beginning the day with the first unit at safety again was Tony Cade and Lewis Baker. Darien Williams and Jason Carter also got work with the first team. Harris, Allen Patrick, Keenan Clayton and Brett Bowers got work with the second team.
Williams, who made a big enough splash in the spring at safety to earn a starting spot in the spring game, is running with the second team, but is still on Wright's mind.
"Darien continues to impress me. He had an interception yesterday that was impressive. I like what I'm seeing out of him."
Wright also talked about the state of the secondary, including D.J. Wolfe, who is making major strides since moving to corner from running back.
"D.J. Wolfe continues to impress me. He made several nice plays today playing the wide-side corner. That may change depending on Marcus' injury. He may stay over there along with Reggie Smith. We still have E-Bass and Chijioke as the boundary corners. We're pretty good there depth-wise. We feel pretty good about the progress D.J. is making. He's going to continue to improve and pass people up, which is great.
"We've got some numbers and talented guys competing for jobs. Guys like Reggie Smith, D.J. and Nic Harris — those guys are going to pass some people up. You've got to earn your way and those guys are trying hard to win jobs. I'm really impressed with their work ethic and attitude."
As for practice, it was a good day in coverage for Bassey, Walker (until the injury) and Reggie Smith. Redshirt freshman safety Brett Bowers also made a couple of nice plays in the short-yardage team drills.
Garrett Hartley connected on field goals of 23, 42 and 47 yards, but missed from 52. Punter Cody Freeby served as Hartley's holder, but bobbled a few snaps.
As for the returners, it appears that Reggie Smith is right in the middle of the race for the punt return job with Jejuan Rankins and Lendy Holmes.
At kick returner, it appears that Travis Wilson, Rankins, Holmes, Allen Patrick and Jacob Gutierrez are in the mix.
Saturday (8/6) Practice Report
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