Pitt football—Monday

The University of Pittsburgh held another spring practice on Monday. PantherDigest.com senior writer Dale Grdnic was in attendance. Dale has a number of news and notes concerning the Pitt football team. Read on for details.

Pitt football—Monday

PITTSBURGH -- The University of Pittsburgh's defensive line has been an area of concern for two seasons now, but the unit took a big step forward during Monday's training camp practices at the UPMC Sports Complex.

* In the morning, the entire defense dominated its Pitt counterpart, but in the afternoon the defensive front was especially strong. After three straight sacks, second-year Panthers coach Dave Wannstedt ended practice 15 minutes early. Quarterback Tyler Palko also injured his left (throwing) hand during the team drills after hitting it on a helmet, but finished practice.

"We sure as heck didn't make any progress today in a couple areas of our football team,'' Wannstedt said. "It was pretty evident that certain areas of our team didn't come out today and compete with the desire to win.

"And we've got to make sure that we don't get ahead of ourselves, and we make sure that we cover first things first, which is to put the guys on the field that are willing to be accountable with the desire to win with every snap. And for whatever reason, we didn't have enough of them today.''

* While Wannstedt wouldn't single out any players or even mention the offense in particular, it was clear that he wasn't happy with its performance. He spent several minutes yelling at the offensive unit on the field while the defense met toward the sideline. Afterward, the defensive line ran some quick drills, while the remaining players ran sprints from sideline to sideline.

"For as well as we executed on offense the past couple days, I don't know where we were at today,'' Wannstedt said. "Hopefully, we weren't thinking about the couple plays that we made in the scrimmage (Saturday).

"I hope that wasn't the case, but we'll get back to it tomorrow. Thankfully, we're still in training camp.''

* Several defensive moves Monday were based on performance, Wannstedt said, from Saturday's scrimmage. Redshirt freshman Doug Fulmer and Joe Clermond moved ahead of Chris McKillop and Charles Sallet at first-team defensive end, at least for Monday and Tuesday, while freshman John Malecki also got some time with the first group at defensive tackle.

"We're still not set, but ... (freshman) McKenzie Mathews got some work with the first and second group, and (freshman) Jason Pinkston got some work with them,'' Wannstedt said. "Everything's based on performance, but they'll all play.''

* One bright spot on offense was freshman running back Dorin Dickerson, who practiced during contract drills Monday for the first time.

"Dorin went full speed, and we went two or three drills live,'' Wannstedt said. "And I would say that for his first day in full speed action, I thought he did OK. He ran up in there hard and was banged around pretty good. He broke some tackles, and I was not disappointed with his first day.''

* Fifth-year senior PK David Abdul (heart condition) did not receive medical clearance to play this season, and his Pitt career is over.

"He will finish school on a medical, but it won't count against (the 85 scholarships),'' Wannstedt said. He added that redshirt sophomore LS Mark Estermyer, a walk-on, might receive a scholarship before the season.

* The injured list has dwindled to WRs Oderick Turner (leg) and Cedric McGee (left calf), CBs Darrelle Revis (left hamstring) and Reggie Carter (left ankle) and S Mike Phillips (left ankle), but they should return soon.

* DT Mick Williams (concussion) had an MRI Monday to determine why he has had lingering head problems nearly two weeks after his injury.

* Before his injury, Palko made several strong throws downfield. Marcel Pestano couldn't hold onto one after he beat safeties Sam Bryant and Eric Thatcher, but Derek Kinder pulled in the same long bomb after beating the same pair on a post route.

* Palko didn't throw a lot after the injury, mostly because he didn't have much time, but he appeared to be OK.

* Senior Vernon Botts has moved down the depth chart on the DL, but he still found it necessary to mix it up with freshman walk-on Alex Karabin after one play.

* Dickerson showed great vision in going right and then cutting back against the grain. Once he got into the secondary, CB Ricky Gary was there to make the play.

* Dickerson wasn't without some struggles in his first practice back. Fellow frosh LB Greg Webster stripped him of the ball during a gang-tackle after a nice gain. And Malecki drilled him the backfield for a loss on another.

* Clint Session had an easy interception late in practice when FB Mark Yezovich went the wrong way, and Palko's dump into the flat went to Session.

* One offensive formation was particularly interesting. Along with the receivers, tackles Mike McGlynn and John Bachman also split out, and Kinder hauled in about a 40-yard connection from Palko on the play.

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