Monday Morning Practice Encouraging

Several players that were held out of Saturday's practice returned to the field this morning and some new names are starting to emerge as athletes to count on. The defensive secondary is becoming more and more impressive to onlookers and maybe there is an end in sight for two-a-day practices.

Seniors Terrence Whitehead returned to practice today along with Demetrius Williams. Freshman running back Jonathan Stewart was not in pads but was walking around normally. Last week, Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti said that Stewart's condition was not serious and he could play if necessary.

Oregon's offensive line is looking more formidable as it continues to gel together and appears to be in better physical condition that it had in previous years. However, with a season ending surgery to junior tackle Shawn Flanagan and freshman Mat Webb gone for the year, many have wondered if Oregon's depth was starting to show. Bellotti mentioned a name from the 2004 recruiting class that has shown versatility in playing a number of positions. Red shirt freshman Jeff Kendall, 6-3, 279 can play any of the positions and may be the first in off the bench.

"Kendall is the sixth man on the offensive line," said Bellotti.

The player that is shaping up to be the best on the offense is wide receiver James Finley. Finley again had an outstanding day catching everything thrown his way. Jaison Williams again showed signs of being a playmaker as he made a great one-hand catch, but later on Williams dropped an easy throw, indicating he still has some work to do. Junior Jordan Kent continues to impress bystanders with his athletic ability and leaving less doubt that he will make the team.

Defensively, Haloti Ngata continues to be a force while senior corner back Aaron Gipson had a great Monday morning practice.

Several of the defensive backs have been impressive throughout camp

At 5-11, 207, Patrick Chung is a strong and muscular safety. However, he is also one of the fastest players on the team. He can jam a receiver at the line and bring down big receivers and running backs with his strength. Chung has the speed to stick with the fastest receivers. His combination of speed and strength is exactly what the coaches' desire in a rover, and even if his technique is not completely refined yet, he is just too good to keep off the field.

Jackie Bates is the quickest defensive back on the team and has excellent make-up speed after the WR makes a move on him. He isn't the biggest DB but makes up for it with amazing athleticism.

Willie Glasper could use a few more pounds but appears to be a classic "cover" corner. The coaches are excited to see him develop over the years as he has excellent cover instincts.

Sharrod Davis, 5-11, 181, appears a bit bigger than Glasper (5-11, 185) even though the official listing on the roster indicate differently, Davis uses decent strength to his advantage but may not be as quick as Glasper. However, Davis has an extra year in the system over Glasper.

The coaches are excited about Jairus Byrd and for good reason. He is ripped and very physical for a defensive back and has speed to boot. With more experience and time in the system, Byrd could join Chung for a powerful, muscular combination of safeties.

Walter Thurmond is playing well for a true freshman. He looks more like Glasper in size but finds a way to make big hits. With more time in the weight room and the system, Thurmond could become a solid Pac-10 cover corner that can unleash a big hit or two unexpectedly.

Jerome Boyd (6-2, 185) and Titus Jackson (6-1, 185) are both tall and lanky but with enough muscle to make the tackles. Both appear to need more time to prepare themselves for Pac-10 play, but if they can get to that level, their height will really be an advantage for them.

According to the practice schedule, Monday is the last day two-a-days is listed but Bellotti indicated he would make the decision on whether further two-a-days would be held.

The Ducks open the season on Thursday, Sept. 1st against Houston.

(Marty Martindale and John Feeney contributed to this story)

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