Tuesday Afternoon Practice Report

Pitt's other 10 offensive linemen worked during the Tuesday afternoon session, and by the time the Panthers come together Saturday for a combined team practice Coach Dave Wannstedt believed the depth chart on the offensive line would be a little more settled.

Those offensive linemen at the afternoon practice for Pittsburgh -- which was held inside despite sunny skies (although there was a threat of rain) -- included Joe Thomas, Jordan Gibbs, Dan Matha, Wayne Jones, Alex Karabin, Josh Novotny, Ryan Turnley, John Bachman, Dom Williams and John Fieger.

"Jason wasn't here in the spring, and Jordan probably was the most consistent tackle in the spring,'' Wannstedt said. "Clowser and Matha weren't available, and Joe Thomas just moved to tackle.

"So, right now, it's an open competition. Really, at every tackle spot, and we're going to look at all the guys. And we'll play the best two. So, if Joe's the guy or Jason, they've got to prove it.''

Overall, though, Wannstedt was just pleased to get through the opening practice day without any serious injuries. However, that's not always the case even though teams are not allowed to hit. Since the Panthers practice in helmets only, no shoulder pads and shorts, problems still occur.

"I don't understand why we don't have shells on at least protecting our shoulders,'' Wannstedt said. "The information we got back when (the Big East coaches) sent in to the NCAA, what we got back was that if we put shells on they'll go harder. And then there's even more chance to get hurt.''

Schools are forced to practice two days with just helmets and then two with helmets and shoulder pads before moving to full gear on Day 5, which Pitt does Saturday afternoon.

"With a helmet and no pads, I think a player is more susceptible to injury, especially where blocking and tackling is concerned,'' Wannstedt said. "This is a contact sport.''

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Kevan Smith already had good rapport with freshman wideout Jonathan Baldwin, who made a handful of good catches and nearly one spectacular one-handed reception on a long pass down the right sideline. There was good coverage on the play by cornerback Buddy Jackson, but the pass was away from him, and Baldwin has serious speed and reach.

Smith and sophomore Pat Bostick, who got the bulk of the reps in the afternoon, both looked fairly sharp in the passing drills. Bostick had a couple nice tosses to freshman wideout Michael Shanahan, who showed speed and athleticism on long and short routes.

"I thought Pat and Kevan did a good job, but I don't know how I'd work in five quarterbacks if we didn't do it this way,'' Wannstedt said. "Neither of them really made bad decisions, but it's difficult to tell anything since it's so early.''

Despite being bulked up to 220 pounds on his 6-foot-1 frame, running back Shariff Harris still showed that he had the speed to get outside on several occasions during the 7-on-7 portion of practice.

The backup punter, freshman walk-on Aaron Hassett (5-11, 180) from Moon, Pa. High School, pounded the football in the afternoon practice. Hassett will redshirt this season and if he progresses well enough will be Pitt's punter next fall. The Panthers haven't really recruited a punter with the hope that Hassett will be successful.

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