Norman, Okla. — The Sooners returned to the practice field Tuesday morning in shorts and shoulder pads for the first of three two-a-day sessions this fall.
And even though they took the field less than 10 hours after the conclusion of last night's 60-play scrimmage, the OU coaches were pleased with the effort.
"I'm really proud of them," said OU head coach Bob Stoops. "It was a great workout today. They came out with a lot of energy, aggressiveness and were mentally fresh. Usually, you don't come back mentally, but this team did today."
"Nothing has got them down," said defensive coordinator Brent Venables. "They had a great workout today, despite the fact they had put a lot of energy into last night. That's a good sign for this team because you're going to get tired late in games, but this team is tough enough to fight through it."
However, the list of walking wounded continues to grow. Below is a list of players who were limited or held out of practice Tuesday morning.
Kejuan Jones (foot), Eric Bassey (quad), Malcolm Kelly (hamstring), Fred Strong (knee soreness), Ben Baressi (knee), Brett Bowers (knee soreness), Jermaine Hardison (foot) Chris Bush (ankle), Brandonn Braxton (shoulder), Alonzo Dotson (class) and Brandon Keith (unknown).
Please note that all of these injuries listed above, with the exception of Baressi, are not serious injuries and these players are currently day-to-day. Baressi, however, could miss up to seven more days.
Both quarterbacks threw the ball well today, but we're going to give the edge this morning to Rhett Bomar.
Bomar, who was back to getting the first reps with the starters in the alternating system with Thompson, was extremely sharp and played mistake-free football, while Thompson threw the only interception of the day.
Bomar and Jejuan Rankins hooked up for the big play of the day with a 70-yard touchdown strike.
Thompson was impressive on his ball faking, which obviously is aided by the fact that he's faking it to Adrian Peterson. But we've noticed that Thompson is adept at the fake no matter whom he's working with in the backfield.
Adrian Peterson was back in the mix today and looked great catching the ball out of the backfield.
Kejuan Jones missed practice with a boot on his left foot, but is expected back soon.
Donta Hickson and Jacob Gutierrez got some extra reps in Jones' absence and both ran extremely hard. Gutierrez had few runs that drew wows from the crowd.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
When the Sooners went to three-wides Tuesday morning it was Travis Wilson, Jejuan Rankins and Quentin Chaney in the line-up.
Wilson and Rankins were relatively quiet last night, but each broke out today with several catches and big plays. Wilson, however, is still battling some ankle issues from an injury on the first day of practice.
Lendy Holmes, who was the third receiver in Monday night's scrimmage, had several nice catches Tuesday morning, but did fumble once after catching a quick slant over the middle.
Every day it seems one of the walk-on receivers impress, and today it was 'The Admiral' David Robinson, who made some a couple of nice grabs.
The funniest moment of the day came on a battle between freshman receiver Manuel Johnson and corneback Brian Jackson. Jackson was covering Johnson on an out route and as both went for the ball they each literally came out of their shoes, while the ball went flying passed them out of bounds.
Chris Bush's ankle issues are not serious, but his absence did open the door for freshman Jon Cooper to take reps with the first team today.
Once again, Davin Joseph moved inside to right guard some and was replaced by freshman Duke Robinson at left tackle, who continues to impress.
Chris Chester also moved to center from guard at times to get reps behind Cooper and Jesse White with Bush out. Chester also had a great day in one-on-one drills against the defensive linemen.
Not much news here to report other than the fact that Dusty Dvoracek still hasn't been cleared for contact and Alonzo Dotson missed this morning's practice while attending a class.
However, one thing that is becoming apparent is Chris Wilson's four-man rotation at defensive end. Through the first six practices, Wilson has been rotating C.J. Ah You, John Williams, Larry Birdine and Calvin Thibodeaux in as the first four on the field.
Both Thibodeaux and Williams recorded a sack on Tuesday.
Everything is still the same at linebacker, with Rufus Alexander, Zach Latimer and Clint Ingram running with the first team, while Demarrio Pleasant, Curtis Lofton and Ryan Reynolds run with the second team.
Alexander and Ingram stood out the most this morning with several nice plays. Alexander forced a fumble with a hit on Lendy Holmes after the redshirt freshman caught a slant pass over the middle.
Marcus Walker returned to practice this morning and had a great workout, especially on covering slant routes where he locked up Travis Wilson and Lendy Holmes.
Starting at the other corner spot was Chijioke Onyenegecha, who had another great practice.
The senior broke up two passes and had tight coverage on just about every pattern we saw him cover. And the one time we saw him get beat, he was right there to put a hit on the receiver immediately after the catch.
"I'm just concentrating mentally on my assignments," said Onyenegecha after practice. "I'm doing a lot better at that. I think I have the physical talent; it's just the mental reps.
"When I make a mistake, I go back and watch it on film and try and learn from it. I need to get it to where it's second-nature. If I do that, I'll be a real good player.
"I'm running well," Onyenegecha said when asked about the hamstring that gave him problems the last two seasons. "I feel healthy. I have enough speed to run down receivers or catch up. I don't have any excuses physically."
Chijioke also talked about the competition at corner so far this fall.
"That's nothing new. We've always had competition. Now we've some new guys who are really talented. If I take care of what I have to take care of, I'll be OK."
One other major story that we feel needs to be mentioned thus far is the play of safety Lewis Baker. Through all of the musical chairs that have been going on at safety the first week, Baker is the only one to have kept a stronghold on his starting spot.
"Lewis had a great summer and worked on his skills," said Brent Venables. "He wants it. He's got a lot of want-to to him. When a player wants it he figures out how to get better, and that's what Lewis did. Lewis has improved in his ability to cover and he's doing a good job."
Starting alongside Baker at safety this morning was Darien Williams. Baker and Williams were backed up by Jason Carter and Tony Cade, and then Nic Harris and Keenan Clayton.
The Allen Patrick experiment at corner continued this morning and the juco transfer is still struggling. There's no doubt Patrick has the physical skills to play corner, but at this point he's still trying to learn the technique and gave up a couple of big plays this morning.
Working with the second team at corner was Reggie Smith and D.J. Wolfe. You actually didn't think you get through a report without mentioning Smith did you? Smith had another great practice and recorded the only interception when he jumped a Paul Thompson pass, picked it off and was off to the races for a potential touchdown.
Punters Cody Freeby and Mike Knall went head-to-head this morning, and we're going to give the nod to Freeby. Freeby had the bigger leg and was very consistent while even booming a couple 50-yard punts, which was a good sign. By our account, Knall averaged around 40 yards per punt.
Tuesday Morning (8/9) Practice Report
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