Pitt's Monday Afternoon Practice

As training camp nears the end for the Pitt football team, Panthers head coach Dave Wannstedt believed his squad was coming together nicely after two crisp workouts Monday.

Pittsburgh went through a physical morning practice and then backed off a bit in the afternoon with shells and shorts.

"It was good for our kids to get back out here with a double day,'' Wannstedt said. "This morning, we did some live contact stuff, controlled, with a run period. And this afternoon, we did some situations, down and distance and substitutions.

"And all those things are evidence and make it very clear that we are getting close to playing a football game. So, I thought the guys were good, but we've still got some guys banged up.''

There still are some camp illnesses, bumps and bruises that continue to plague the Panthers, but three players have been out for an extended period. Tight end Nate Byham (concussion), tight end Dorin Dickerson (hamstring) and defensive end Jabaal Sheard (knee) have not been able to practice. Byham and Dickerson tried to go the other day, but were re-injured.

Sheard has not been able to do anything for six days now, since being injured in the first scrimmage, and has been limited to conditioning work. Still, Wannstedt did not appear to be concerned about him.

"Jabaal, he's doing great,'' Wannstedt said. "I would expect him in the next couple days to join the practices in some capacity.''

Along with Byham, Dickerson and Sheard, Pitt was without wideout Ed Tinker (illness), defensive end Shayne Hale (concussion), defensive tackle Gus Mustakas (rest), defensive tackle Justin Hargrove (ankle), linebacker Tristan Roberts and safety Marco Pecora (ankle).

Hale and Mustakas practiced in the morning, but took the afternoon off. Defensive tackle Mick Williams got sick midway through and could not finish. Wideout Mike Shanahan (hand) did some individual work, but he still is a week away from playing time.

Pitt was able to get through the afternoon without any additional injuries, and actually got some big plays from tailbacks Dion Lewis and Ray Graham and wideout Aundre Wright, among others.

"If you get in a situation where you have a few better athletes than an opponent, you need to run some plays where maybe nine guys don't have to be perfect to gain positive yards,'' Wannstedt said.

"(And) offensively, we're prepared to do both. Today in practice, we opened it up a little bit and got the ball to some of our speed and playmakers, and I think they had some fun with it.''

Defensively, redshirt junior safety Elijah Fields also made a couple plays.

"Elijah's back at it pretty good, and that was encouraging to see,'' Wannstedt said. "He needs to put together two or three days in a row like today.''

Fields made several nice plays with an interception. He made a beautiful read on an out pattern that quarterback Bill Stull threw a little late.

Pitt has just one practice Tuesday and two Wednesday, including the final intra-squad scrimmage from 3-5 p.m., while FanFest is Thursday from 6-8 at Heinz Field. The final camp practice is Friday night from 6:15 to 8:15 p.m.

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