DAY 3: Katz has the touch, Wheaton returns

CORVALLIS – Wednesday afternoon's practice, the third of Oregon State's 2010 fall camp was a lot about installing plays, packages and formations. Still, there was lots to talk about, including Ryan Katz' touch passes, an amped-up Beaver defensive line and more.

The teaching practice on Wednesday meant there wasn't as much action on the field. Still, a lot of players up and down the depth chart got snaps in the increasingly warm Corvallis weather, a key receiver returned from injury and much earlier than expected, QB-1 impresses Part Deux and Stephen Paea lead the charge as the defensive line looked to run wild on Wednesday.

While the offensive package personnel went virtually unchanged through drills, plus the addition of freshman Obum Gwacham to a few plays, the defensive front saw numerous players rotated in and out of the No. 1 lineup.

Junior Kevin Frahm and senior Brennan Olander rotated in at one defensive tackle spot, while Stephen Paea took the bulk of the snaps with the first team, if not all of them, at the other.

It's not full contact, bring the man to the ground just yet. But during both team sessions the defensive line had a field day with the offensive line, pressuring quarterback Ryan Katz and forcing him to check-down to either Jacquizz Rodgers, Joe Halahuni and others.

ON ONE PLAY, the defensive line burned through the o-line, chasing Katz from right to left on the field. There's never any hitting on the quarterback in camp but if there was, it would have been a Katz sandwich. Paea and Olander had Katz in their grasp when the play was called dead, and linebacker Dwight Roberson stood right in Katz' grill as well.

Cornerback Jordan Poyer took snaps with the first team defense opposite junior Brandon Hardin on Wednesday, and was joined by safeties Josh LaGrone and Dax Dilbeck in the secondary.

Poyer was efficient, swatting away a couple of Katz' passes in the first team session of the afternoon. The only real mistake the youngster made was in a potential deep ball connection from Katz to James Rodgers.

While Poyer played Quon tight, and had help over the top from safety Suaesi Tuimaunei, Poyer would have drawn a flag had it been a game situation, knocking down Rodgers mid-route.

SOPHOMORE WIDE RECEIVER Markus Wheaton returned to practice after a shoulder bruise kept him out of practice yesterday. Wheaton was supposed to be out until at least the end of the week but was back on the field Wednesday afternoon, taking snaps with the first team offense.

As if that wasn't enough good news, tackle Michael Philipp was back on the field this afternoon, too. Running sprints, that is.

Even though it's expected that Philipp will sit out at least the rest of the week, the left tackle was on the far field putting work in sprinting sideline to sideline -- a good sign.

IN THE BATTLE to back up Jacquizz Rodgers, that battle has certainly been joined as of Day 3.

Ryan McCants, Jovan Stevenson and Jordan Jenkins all were running with purpose on Wednesday, and each one brings something different to the equation in terms of power, burst and shiftiness.

ONE OF THE oft-mentioned themes of the spring by Mike Riley regarding Katz was the need for the starting QB improve on his touch. Wednesday, Riley said Katz is indeed learning that "finesse pass" concept.

On numerous snaps Wednesday, Katz took the mustard off his passes, hitting his targets on time and in stride.

The biggest gainer might have come on an out route to Joe Halahuni, left wide open by the secondary and Katz lofted an arching pass right into his hands.

The Beavers have one more practice left before going full pads on Friday.

The countdown before Oregon State heads to Dallas Stadium for the opener – 24 days.

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