Rebels practice in pads Monday

Coach Orgeron was excited about his defense Saturday, and that trend continued as the Rebels strapped on pads for the first time during spring practice. Clear skies and pleasant temperatures graced Ole Miss for the three-hour affair.

"It was very exciting out there today," Orgeron said. "Just like you like it. The defense in those red jerseys was ready to go. They were jacked up today. Lot of big plays from that side.

"It's good to see the guys hitting. We came out today and had some sacks; some picks and really put pressure on the offense. The enthusiasm was really there today."

One defensive athlete that stood out to Orgeron was defensive back Ashlee Palmer.

"Ashlee is doing really well. He is learning the defense, making calls and being very vocal. He is a great athlete. He put on the pads for the first time today and likes the physical play. That is good to see."

The defensive side is already missing lineman Peria Jerry and end Vicente DeLoach due to injury, and redshirt sophomore linebacker Don Hargroder was added to that list on Monday. Orgeron did not elaborate but said that the Abbeville, La., native would miss the entire spring.

One player who is attempting to return to full strength is the multi-purpose Dexter McCluster. The speedy McCluster is being held from full contact but doing enough to attract Orgeron's praise.

"Dexter is doing well and doing everything that he can," Orgeron said. "He is doing an excellent job of catching the ball and making plays. He is just being Dexter. He is working hard and is a confident young man. He is really hungry and has matured over his time here."

The offense missed a key component when the 2006 freshman missed the last portion of the season, and Orgeron discussed what McCluster means to the team.

"Without him, you miss some screens and his play-making ability. He has such ability and there are certain things the offense can't do when he isn't in there."

The defense performed better as a unit on Monday, but a couple offensive players drew praise from their head coach.

"Cordera (Eason) had some really good runs today. He is lots stronger than he was last year. He really benefited from his first offseason. He is really good and strong.

"Corey Actis has made a great impression on us the first week of practice. He is making a big difference on the offensive line."

Actis has made an effort to improve over the offseason and seems to be achieving that goal.

"He has gotten into the weightroom and learned everything," Orgeron added. "He has gotten stronger and more mature. He made tremendous strides in the offseason. Actis leads by example, makes the right calls and just does the correct things."

Orgeron was asked about the quarterbacks but didn't offer much evaluation. He noted that Jevan Snead made a couple plays, but there was really no change or anyone moving ahead in the race for the starting nod.

Although the defense had a great day, Orgeron was quick to challenge and point out the cornerbacks.

"We need to see some guys at corner make plays. We need tighter coverage and play both zone and man. You have to win those one-on-one routes. We need a total re-haul, a complete restructure of cornerback play."

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