This past week has seen an increased push on the players with double sessions nearly every day (aside from Tuesday which featured Media Day and the Big Ten Network's visit). "It's pretty clear who's got the conditioning to handle it and who is starting to hit a wall," an observer said.
Monday and Wednesday saw morning and afternoon practices with unit meetings between. There have also been film review sessions. As one observer explained, "I think overall there's been more film review this preseason than in recent years."
Both of these practice days saw added contact drills. "There was a lot of focus on ball protection with the backs and receivers, and tackling technique with the defensive backs and linebackers."
The offensive and defensive linemen have put in extra time on contact drills, as well. "The defensive front guys have been working different block shedding — like rip techniques," according to an observer. "The offensive linemen have been on assignment control; footwork and hand technique."
As for the offensive line's progress? "They're coming together." Matt Stankiewich is "getting more fluid" and "getting some comfort" with his snaps. "It still comes down to communication and talking to the rest of his line."
The line is said to be coming together with blocking and the "left side" (LT Quinn Barham and LG Johnnie Troutman) in particular has "held their own." The right side (RT Chimaeze Okoli and RG John Urschel/DeOn'tae Pannell) are coming together, but "the coaches are likely to move toward deciding on a starter."
The consensus seems that Urschel will end up with the job. Many feel he has the strength and head to assume the role, but is "still nailing down the position."
The defensive line has been working a four-man tackle rotation of Devon Still, Jordan Hill, James Terry and DaQuan Jones. "That rotation seems fairly set" assuming that the defensive end position doesn't have a need to pull Jones into the mix.
In terms of the end position, Jack Crawford "hasn't been outstanding, but has shown better consistency. His foot seems fine, I think it comes down to endurance."
Eric Latimore has had some "good practices this week," and Sean Stanley and C.J. Olaniyan have "both been impressive getting around. Stanley has been more effective dropping his shoulder to get around the edge." Another player who has been getting praise for his early play at end is Kyle Baublitz. "People love his size, so we'll see, but he's been looking good."
With the quarterbacks, Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin continue to split first-team reps in drills. Bolden has looked "much more crisp with his delivery for the most part" this week. They are putting him into "pressure situations to help with his reads and reactions."
McGloin has "shown good intermediate deliveries." As one observer explained, "He's been spotty with the deep routes." Most observers maintain that they feel Bolden has the edge on the starting job with one saying he's "convinced it's a done deal."
Thursday the team took in its third double-session of the week with position work in the morning, unit meetings after and scrimmage work in Beaver Stadium in the afternoon.
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