Wednesday Afternoon Practice Report

It's never been a good day if practice ends with a series of up-downs, but that was the case for Pitt's offense following the Wednesday afternoon practice.

And while the offense basically was punished for a poor performance, the Pittsburgh defense should be lauded for collecting several interceptions and generally just outplaying their teammates. They got to go through stretching exercises after practice and left the field much earlier.

"The disappointing thing from the afternoon was that we threw two or three interceptions on offense,'' Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. "I didn't think any of the quarterbacks this afternoon really came out here and made any plays.

"And the disappointing thing was that most of the plays were what we ran in the morning. They watched tape on that, so it should have been better in the afternoon. And they didn't follow up on that.''

Wannstedt singled out redshirt freshman offensive guard Chris Jacobson for his two-day practice performance during the morning sessions and overall development after suffering a season-ending knee injury about one year ago.

"We've known what Chris can do and have been optimistic about him, but we haven't been talking about him being in the mix (due to the injury),'' Wannstedt said. "And if things keep progressing, he will be in the mix. ... I don't think we're looking at who's lined up where or pushing somebody else at a spot.

"But by the end of camp we're looking for the best five offensive linemen who give us a chance to win. And, I think that Chris Jacobson is competing to be one of those guys. He's moving and reacting well so far, and that's good.''

Wannstedt also noted that safety Elijah Fields picked it up a notch and made some plays during the afternoon. Wannstedt noted that Fields has been working hard, and he was encouraged by his performance so far.

Fields squared off his coverage during a one-on-one drill against Michael Shanahan, as the freshman wideout beat him to the sideline and made a nice grab while toeing the line. Fields closed strong, but the quick pattern made him too late. He redeemed himself a short time later in the team drills with an extremely athletic, one-handed interception against quarterback Pat Bostick. This time, Fields got the better of Shanahan as well.

Also in the one-on-ones between the defensive backs and wideouts, freshman Jonathan Baldwin made a terrific inside move to beat cornerback Buddy Jackson on a pattern down the middle, but redshirt freshman Andrew Janocko -- who was the lone quarterback in these drills --threw it over the wrong shoulder. And neither Baldwin nor Jackson could touch it.

Other matchups included walk-on Justin Edwards from Penn-Trafford High School in Harrison City, Pa. against redshirt freshman wideout Aundre Wright. Edwards made a terrific diving interception while covering him like a blanket.

Cornerback Ricky Gary had tight coverage on freshman wideout Cameron Saddler. Despite a quick inside move and good throw, Gary was able to get a hand in front of Saddler to knock the ball away.

Redshirt junior safety Irvan Brown stayed close to Wright on a post route, but Janocko's pass could not connect.

Walk-on Dan Cafaro also had a pick against quarterback Kevan Smith, as both young quarterbacks struggled Wednesday afternoon after a good first day.

Thursday will mark the addition of shoulder pads to Pitt's practice wardrobe. After two days in just helmets, the Panthers can pick up the pace and hitting a bit. There won't be any real tackling, but the line play -- offense and defense -- can be more physical.

"At least it's closer to real football,'' Wannstedt said.

Redshirt freshmen defensive linemen Chas Alecxih and Myles Caragein played tackle one day and end the next. Clearly, they're learning both spots and are expected to play some at each position due to their strength and athleticism.

Also, redshirt freshman Wayne Jones was moved to center.

"I don't know how many people he's blocked, but ... we haven't put the ball on the ground with those young guys,'' Wannstedt said. "And this time last year, that was a real problem for us. We had about four fumbled snaps each day.''

Finally, Wannstedt said there was no concern about the three injured players. Wideout T.J. Porter twisted his toes on the indoor turf and should return soon. Wideout Derek Kinder (right knee) was just a little sore, and defensive end Doug Fulmer was being rested after having a good first day.

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