Pittsburgh was working on coverage drills, primarily, at Friday morning's training camp practice. And had LeSean McCoy, Chris Burns, Andrew Taglianetti and tight end Nate Byham in a special guest appearance. He was told to help out back there by an assistant coach and after one punt catch and return was chased away by wideouts coach Bryan Bossard.
"Get outta there before you (muck) things up too much,'' Bossard said.
"I told them I didn't know what I was doing back there,'' Byham said. "At least I caught the punt, but I guess I didn't run the right way.''
The drill is more of a walk-through with no contact, but the players work on positioning during the return -- blocking and coverage.
On one thing, the worst thing to happen during the drill was when cornerback Aaron Berry pulled up near the end of it. He was rested the remainder of the practice, but that allowed freshman Jarred Holley to get considerably more playing time as a starting cornerback.
"Jarred continues to make progress,'' Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. "Holley is a guy who has a chance to help us on special teams and is competing for a backup spot at corner.''
Holley's biggest deflection came in the end zone during the red-zone drill, as he knocked away a sure touchdown pass to Oderick Turner. Holley got his hand in there to knock the ball away before Turner could secure it.
While junior wideout T.J. Porter (toes) returned to morning practice Friday, Derek Kinder (right knee) and defensive end Doug Fulmer did not practice for the third straight day after a particularly difficult and long initial workout Tuesday. The coaches have said that they're just sore and are day-to-day.
Redshirt junior Cedric McGee has taken advantage of his additional playing time with the first team in the morning. He has run crisp routes and made some big catches. McGee has worked out very well with starting quarterback Bill Stull.
"He's having a good camp so far,'' Bossard noted. "But the big thing for Ced is to be more consistent. We know what he can do. He can run, and he's big and strong, but he has to be more consistent running routes and catching the football. That'll be the difference for him if he's going to have a big year, but we believe he can take that next step now. He's close.''
The morning practice closed with a red-zone period and two-minute drill, and the defense probably won both sessions. In the red zone, Byham caught a big third-down pass for a touchdown from Stull. He slipped into the back of the end zone and made a nice grab next to cornerback Dan Cafaro.
The other big offensive play was turned in by McCoy, and it was vintage Shady. The play called was a swing pass to the right, but defensive end Greg Romeus clogged that lane up, and McCoy quickly spun left. After a 180-degree turn, McCoy took off for the open field and was untouched before he hit the end zone on a 15-yard run. It was spectacular.
The red-zone period ended when quarterback Greg Cross' short pass attempt was deflected at the line and picked off by Tommie Duhart. The defensive tackle shifted into high gear and quickly returned it the other way.
Conredge Collins, Porter, Byham and John Pelusi all stayed after practice to catch additional passes from the juggs machine, which can fire close, hard passes or can be used to blast the ball for punt returns.
Friday Morning Practice Report
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