Practice Notes for Wednesday

The Oregon Ducks continued to workout in shells Wednesday afternoon. A couple of young players stood out during the session while players that many expect to be major contributors continued to impress those along the sidelines. The Ducks will remain in shells until Friday.

First off, this team is loaded with talent and many young players could have a big impact on the field this year. A couple of young guys that stood out during the session were Walter Thurmond and Jairus Byrd. Thurmond no doubt will see significant playing time at cornerback this season even though Terrell Ward and Jackie Bates may end up as the starters. Thurmond displayed good speed and appears to have put on weight since last year. Thurmond is fast and makes good breaks.

Byrd is a very physical player and can lay "the wood" on opposing players. It isn't hard to imagine Byrd moving into the rover spot next season with Patrick Chung moving to free safety when senior J.D. Nelson graduates. Byrd is a star in the making.

A few notes from the practice session:

- QB Dennis Dixon looked great on many of his deep throws but was behind his receivers on a few occasions on shorter passes. A couple option plays also resulted in either a bad pitch from Dixon or miscommunication between the QB and the RB as the ball ended up on the turf a few times. When Brady Leaf was taking repetitions, the majority of the play calling favored his passing and the option play was ran significantly less. The offense doesn't seem to be tailored to each quarterback's strength.

-- RB Jonathan Stewart looked great on runs out of the backfield and also showed good hands out of the backfield. Jeremiah Johnson practiced in the morning session. Both Andiel Brown and Chris Vincent looked adequate as back-ups or as specific situations type players.

--WR Garren Strong looked great today. He caught a couple deep balls and put a good move or two on Terrell Ward and Byrd on one play. James Finley made a couple good catches but also had one drop on a ball that was behind him. Expect him to make that catch though. Cameron Colvin wasn't too involved but on a few end-around plays he showed good speed and vision. Colvin looks to have improved his route running and gets open more than in previous years. Jaison Williams had a couple good plays as well. Physically he is just an absolute specimen. Brian Paysinger and Kyle Weatherspoon also had a few good catches and look to be solid extra weapons at wideout.

-- H-Back Dante Rosario had one drop but otherwise caught the ball pretty well for having a club (cast) on his right arm. On one play he got behind A.J. Tuitele's coverage for a 30-yard pass. Dan Kause looked good as well, he is just very solid and doesn't do anything wrong.

-- Offensive Lineman Enoka Lucas looked good. Containment was broken a few times and a few option plays were busted up quickly.

-- Linebacker Jerome Boyd has really filled out and truly looks like a linebacker now rather than a safety. He moves well on the outside and seems to be in on most plays. Boyd will see a lot of playing time this year. He will be in the same boat as Kwame Agyeman as far as playing time goes. Speaking of Agyeman, he picked off one of Leaf's passes today as he made a quick break on a short throw over the middle. Blair Phillips should be great this year. He is in great shape and has become a leader out there. Tuitele was everywhere today but he was beat in coverage a few times however. Tuitele seems to be better at stopping the run then in dropping back into coverage.

-- Rover Jairus Byrd looks like a star in the making. He has enough speed to cover wideouts and for his size can really lay a hat on you. He is a very physical player and will see a great deal of playing time.

-- Cornerbacks Ward and Bates look to be the starters. Bates has the No. 1 spot all but locked up from the looks of it and Ward is battling neck and neck with Wally Thurmond. Both will play a lot this year, along with Willie Glasper and possibly Matthew Harper at CB.

-- Safety J.D. Nelson looked solid as usual. He should be all Pac-10 first team on defense this year. Ryan DePalo just seems to make plays all the time. He had a pick today when he made a great play to jump in front of a throw across the middle to James Finley. He dove right in front of him and snagged the ball on his way to a great interception.

-- Defensive Lineman Matt Toeaina stood out. David Faaeteete also looked good. Darius Sanders should have a good season as well.

Other Notes:
- Rosario has been playing H-Back as well as doing drills with the linebackers.

- Colvin looked great on a few plays but seems to disappear when he isn't given the looks.

- Both Dexter Manley and Jeremy Gibbs looked the part so far. Manley looks thicker but is still very quick off the edge and he should get playing time this year, but does need work on technique.

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