Penn State Kicks Off Preseason Practice

Well, it's here — the first day of preseason practice, which, for many in the Nittany Nation, translates into only one small step away from the season's kickoff. With the departures of some players like Amani Purcell and Joel Holler and the arrival of players like Lydell Sargeant and Jerome Hayes, the PSU staff used today to start a final assessment of the talent it has for this season.

Today's practice was a "light" session, consisting of runs and some basic fundamental unit drills conducted in shorts and T-shirts with no pads. So what purpose do these initial practices serve?

As one observer explained, "The early practices this week will be used by the staff to assess where each player is physical and mentally and how they have progressed overall in the offseason."

The coaches run a variety of fundamental drills to give them a good general idea of the speed, strength and general technique each player has coming out of the off-season conditioning period. Aside from running, the players participated in a series of agility sets early on which focused on footwork, coordination, speed and endurance. These prelimiary assessments will then be used to make any necessary preliminary adjustments to the depth chart, which was assembled at the close of spring practice in April.

In turn this initial depth chart will be the foundation to identify major depth issues at any position and serve as the springboard to any discussions around potential position shifts to enhance the depth at those gaps. Part of this assessment will include any loss of depth due to injury or transfer, like the transfers Joel Holler and Amani Purcell. It will also begin to take into account those players who have arrived on campus since spring practice like freshman Jerome Hayes, Sean Lee, Knowledge Timmons and Lydell Sargeant. The staff will use these drills to get a current assessment of the new players to determine where they may fall on the depth chart.

As the week progresses so will the intensity and complexity of the drills with a greater focus on unit sessions, working up to "Drill 6", which is a 7-on-7 workout.

The first two days will feature these fundamental sets in shorts and T-shirts. Then the players will don their pad shells for the remained of the week, with full pad practices coming this weekend.

Stay tuned to FightOnState.com for news and notes around practice as we head into the 2005 season. While preseason sessions are closed to the public and the media, we'll be in touch with our sources to keep you abreast of what is going on.

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