For Beavs up front, things get Wilder

CORVALLIS – There have been three key positional battles in camp, at left tackle, middle linebacker and backup running back. Mike Riley on Monday named the starter at one, hedged on another and left the other unanswered. The coaching staff lengthened the duration while turning down the tempo Monday. Special teams were the focus early on, and an injured defensive starter appears on his way back.

On the injury front, sophomore defensive end Taylor Henry was out of his walking boot this afternoon, and jogged on the sideline throughout practice -- perhaps a telling sign that he is inching closer to being ready for TCU, now just days away.

Mike Riley said today senior Wilder McAndrews will be the starting left tackle for Saturday's matchup, with sophomore Michael Philipp backing him up.

While Philipp has battled injuries, including a broken nose and sore knee, there were surely few who at the start of camp said McAndrews would start over him for the opener. Nevertheless, that's where it stands.

A heated battle that has come down to the wire, the backup spot to junior running back Jacquizz Rodgers. Sophomore Jordan Jenkins and junior Ryan McCants both showed flashes throughout the fall session, and Riley said both have staked a claim to the spot.

"They will both back up," Riley said. "It's more situational than anything. I think that's the best way to say it."

And at middle linebacker, the battle continues.

"I will tell you that for sure later. I'm going to talk to the coaches and we are going to make a final decision on that," said Riley.

Sophomores Tony Wilson and Rueben Robinson continued to share snaps at the position throughout Monday's session.

TURNING TO THE action on the field, senior kicker Justin Kahut continued kicking with the first string special teams, and with no mention of his back injury worsening in the past few weeks. Kahut was consistent throughout the special teams' session, kicking into a brisk Reser Stadium breeze that did his kicking game no harm.

Throughout the session the coaching staff threw in different FG defensive packages they may see on Saturday. Later on, Kahut took the kickoff specialist role and pushed the returner Markus Wheaton to the five-yard line with a big-time kick into the wind.

IT WAS A hot and cold day for Ryan Katz. The Beavs' starting QB was a little shaky early on in practice, but later dialed it down the middle to junior H-back Joe Halahuni for a touchdown. Halahuni burned past defenders and the secondary on the play, showing good speed for his big frame.

Throughout practice, the first string offense faced off against the second string defense, with the second string offense matching up against the first string defense. Seeing as how it was a rather low-key practice, neither of the units won the day.

The rest of the first string offense continued to look like this:

QB: Ryan Katz

RB: Jacquizz Rodgers

FB: Will Darkins

WR: James Rodgers / Aaron Nichols / Jordan Bishop / Markus Wheaton

TE: Brady Camp

H-Back: Joe Halahuni / John Reese

LT: Wilder McAndrews

LG: Grant Johnson

C: Alex Linnenkohl

RG: Burke Ellis

RT: Mike Remmers

Continuing without Henry, the first string defense looked like this today:

DE: Gabe Miller

DT: Stephen Paea

DT: Kevin Frahm / Brennan Olander

DE: Dominic Glover / Kevin Frahm

OLB: Dwight Roberson

MLB: Rueben Robinson / Tony Wilson

OLB: Keith Pankey

LCB: James Dockery / Jordan Poyer

S: Suaesi Tuimaunei / Cameron Collins

S: Lance Mitchell

RCB: Brandon Hardin

The Beavers return to the field Tuesday afternoon, just four days away from kicking off the 2010 football season.

Click here for the depth chart released this afternoon.

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