Pitt Wednesday Morning Practice

Pitt's 2009 training camp might be winding down, but the action is still hot and heavy deep into the team's third practice week.

With Wednesday being a two-practice day and afternoon session being highlighted by several live periods, as opposed to the previously-scheduled scrimmage, one might believe the morning workout would be light. That would be an incorrect assumption.

Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt had the Panthers in full pads for the more than two-hour session and picked up the pace after about an hour of slow-paced individual work with a spirited inside running drill.

Both Bill Stull and Tino Sunseri got some first-team reps, but Stull had more opportunities. Chris Jacobson got every first-team snap at left offensive guard. On defense, Andrew Taglianetti started ahead of Elijah Fields.

Redshirt freshman Shayne Hale opened at left defensive end for Jabaal Sheard (knee), while redshirt sophomore Chas Alecxih started at a tackle spot for Mick Williams (illness). And redshirt freshman Mike Cruz was the tight end, as Nate Byham (concussion) continued to get time off. Junior Dorin Dickerson (hamstring) returned to practice after missing nearly a week.

The tailbacks, in order, continued to be freshmen Dion Lewis and Ray Graham and redshirt frosh Chris Burns. While each had a couple solid runs, neither was able to break into the secondary for a first down They were contained by the line or linebackers with support from the defensive backs.

Sophomore wideout Jonathan Baldwin has had a terrific camp with obvious improvements in route-running, blocking and concentration. And he has made difficult catches look routine before, Baldwin nearly made an unbelievable catch midway through the morning practice. The problem was that it didn't appear to be necessary.

Stull threw a pass toward the corner of the end zone that Baldwin should have been able to pull in with an over-the-shoulder grab. Not the easiest catch to make, but not too difficult, either, for Baldwin. Instead, Baldwin twisted his body around and attempted to make a one-handed stab. He actually snagged the ball and came down with it, but cornerback Jovani Chappel gave him a little shot.

The ball came loose, as Baldwin landed awkwardly and fell into a heap near the back fence with Chappel laying on him as well. Wannstedt and head trainer Rob Blanc moved cautiously toward Baldwin. After a couple minutes, just as the group arrived, Baldwin got up and jogged back to the huddle.

"You made me walk all that way,'' Wannstedt joked, with an obvious look of relief on his face, as his star receiver shook off the play. Just to show that he was really OK, Baldwin lined up wide right, made a nice move and caught a touchdown pass in the middle of the end zone on the next play.

There also were two interceptions in the morning. On one, Stull threw the ball a little behind Lewis as middle linebacker Adam Gunn closed strongly for the hit. As the two collided, the ball popped into the air where weak-side linebacker Max Gruder pulled it in.

On the other play, Sunseri attempted a screen to Lewis that defensive tackle Gus Mustakas swiped out of his hands and returned for a touchdown. Stull also had a chance to throw a touchdown pass to freshman Devin Street, but badly overthrew him.

The afternoon practice basically is the camp finale for the Panthers.

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