Notes From Spring Practice: Day 4

Monday morning's practice served as a stark reminder that there's a reason why the spring is important for the development of a football team. The Ducks looked rusty, and lacked the overall energy that was apparent throughout the first week of spring practices, prompting Oregon head coach, Chip Kelly's call for leaders to emerge.

1. LeGarrette Blount made his spring debut Monday morning, as he was seen participating in non-contact drills while wearing the red, non-contact jersey. "It's good to see him come back and see him running around a little bit," said Kelly, "Hopefully we'll get the shirt off of him so he can start practicing and we can keep him in on 11-on-11 situations." Blount recovering from a right foot injury he suffered just prior to the beginning of spring practices. Junior linebacker, Spencer Paysinger and senior safety, Titus Jackson, were both on hand this morning as well, though the two players were held out nursing their respective injuries. Paysinger was wearing a bulky walking boot on his left leg and Jackson had his right knee wrapped and was on crutches. Junior Nate Costa was also without pads today and was signalling in plays for the majority of the session. The coaching staff aims to limit Costa, in order for his surgically repaired knee to heal optimally.

2. Drops by the wide receivers were the prevailing theme during today's practice. Particularly in the early morning portion, the receivers appeared to have tremendous difficulty holding on to rather catchable practices. Juniors Jamere Holland and Jeff Maehl, specifically, seemed to lack concentration on a handful of passes that were thrown their way. "I want to see someone step up," stated Kelly after practice, "and it shouldn't be a coach that has to tell you that practice isn't going the way we need to practice. Who's that guy who's going to step up? [We need] the guy who's going to step up in a game if we've had a couple three and outs on offense..." Additionally, Junior College transfer at wide receiver, Lavasier Tuinei, seems to continue struggle, strength-wise, in matchup against corners at the line-of-scrimmage. On a handful of instances during 3-on-2 drills, Tuinei was getting out-muscled by smaller players, which lead to Coach Kelly outfitting Tuinei with the new nickname, "Skinny", as well as a charge to be more physical at the point-of-attack.

3. After watching four days of practice, it's becoming more and more apparent that Darron Thomas' throwing motion is significantly more fluid and smooth compared to the fall. His improved mechanics have him throwing the ball much more accurately and with much more zip. Look for Thomas to make a strong push for the second string quarterback job once the fall arrives.

4. The biggest play of the day came towards the end of practice during 11-on-11's when junior running back, Remene Alston, caught a swing pass out of the backfield and promptly flattened in the open field by junior middle linebacker, Casey Matthews. The play drew ooh's and ahh's from those in attendance and evoked visions of Philadephia Eagle, Sheldon Brown's hit on the New Orleans Saints' Reggie Bush during the 2006 NFC Divisional Playoffs.

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