Notes From Spring Practice: Day 7

Nearing the halfway point of spring drills, the Ducks returned to the practice field Monday morning inside the Moshofsky Center as they gear up for Wednesday's scrimmage.

Week three began Monday morning with some familiar faces sidelined with various injuries and ailments that ranged in apparent severity. Still out is senior defensive end Terrell Turner who has missed the majority of spring drills with a foot injury that has required a bulky cast and crutches. Joining him as spectators were sophomore wide receiver Josh Huff (knee) and junior running back Kenjon Barner (undisclosed).

In Barner's case, the Riverside, Calif. native was fully dressed though he wore a red non-contact jersey as he did individual conditioning work with strength and conditioning coach, Jim Radcliffe. Huff's injury is arguably the most concerning to Duck fans provided his outstanding freshman campaign last season. Though he was hobbled with a very cumbersome brace that limited virtually all knee movement, he didn't sport crutches and seemed to be in generally good spirits looking on from the sideline. Details with regard to Huff's injury remain cloudy, however, and head coach Chip Kelly once again refrained from divulging anything more than bare bones information.

"Josh was at practice today," Kelly quipped. "That's my update...he will be at practice on Wednesday."

Wednesday will mark the first intra-squad scrimmage for the Ducks this spring. Replacing the leadership that was lost over the offseason has been a big point of emphasis for Kelly and the Ducks this spring and Wednesday's scrimmage should provide a good litmus test for the coaching staff to see exactly where the team is at near the halfway point of drills. After practice Monday, Kelly identified senior offensive lineman Mark Asper and junior linebacker Michael Clay as two players who should assume major leadership roles heading in to 2011.

"It's a work in progress," Kelly said of the leadership roles on his team waiting to be defined. "I think Mark does a great job of leading by example, but he's gotta do a little better job being vocal and he understands that.

"Michael Clay probably played 40 or 50 snaps a game for us last year and the same the year before because we rotate so many guys...I think from a football standpoint (the new leaders) are doing a really great job, but from a leadership standpoint they all need to be a little more vocal."

Kelly also recognized senior cornerback Anthony Gildon as a new leader in the secondary by virtue of his experience in the defensive backfield along with Eddie Pleasant and John Boyett.

"I've been really happy with what Anthony's been doing this spring," Kelly stated. "He had a really good finish last year too. It's a maturation process and that's a really neat thing to see."

Highlights of the day were provided by tight ends Brandon Williams and David Paulson who had their way with pass coverage in receiver vs. pass defender drills. Twice, Williams beat his man down the seam for big gains downfield. Defensively, defensive back Isaac Dixon had arguably his finest practice of the spring. Already drawing rave reviews for his work on special teams, Dixon shined in run support this morning, laying the wood on redshirt freshman running back Ayele Forde in 11-on-11.

Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney

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