Spring Practice #4 Notebook

PISCATAWAY, N.J.- The NCAA requires that the initial trio of practices not be conducted in pads. That made Thursday afternoon all that more important, with it being the fourth day of spring camp, and consequently, the first day in pads.

Head Coach Greg Schiano recognized the difference in the physical play on Thursday afternoon.

"Football is not played in shorts," Schiano said, jokingly. "It's played in pads. It's good to get back at it."

Despite the departures of running back Ray Rice and defensive tackle Eric Foster to the upcoming 2008 NFL Draft, the Scarlet Knights still maintain the strong and accurate arm of fifth-year senior QB Mike Teel.

"He's got some good but young backs behind him," Schiano said, referring to Mason Robinson and Kordell Young, the two heirs to Rice's throne.

Robinson moved up the depth chart last season after Young's devastating early season-ending knee injury. Both players are true sophomores with heavy burdens to follow Rice's success.

But, Schiano remained focused on his returning captain and leader of the Scarlet Knights, who earned their third straight bowl appearance last season.

"I think if he keeps doing what he does, he's going to be fine," Schiano said. "Quarterback's our team leader, returning captain, all those things. I think he's doing a good job of that."

Schiano also discussed the experiment in his gaping defensive line, which graduated defensive tackle and vocal leader Eric Foster.

"Obviously, we're adjusting to the Justin Francis situation, (since) he was going to be at the three position at that technique," Schiano said. "We were spoiled for a long time with Eric Foster. Hopefully, if it works out, West (Jamal Westerman) can be that guy for us.

Although Westerman led the team in sacks in 2007, Schiano maintained confidence in shifting him to inside tackle from his regular end position.

"We're not playing anybody this week," the Wyckoff, N.J. native coach said, wittingly. "He's doing a good job down there."

Overall, Schiano seemed positive, especially with all the humorous responses.

He threw in some more laughter when asked about the two simultaneous 15-yard penalties he assessed to his defense during one 11-on-11 play.

"Calmly," Schiano said he would react if the play occurred during a game.

He would like the Knights to stay focused for Saturday's second full practice in pads.

"If we play hard the whole day and not get sloppy, that'll be a success," Schiano said. "I don't expect it to be real sharp the second day in pads."

Schiano also talked about defensive back Courtney Greene, who opted to return for his final year on the banks.

"He's a mature guy, he's been here a long time," Schiano said. "He didn't take part in the 11 on 11, real smart there. But, in everything else off the field and in drills. He has two new coaches back there, so I think it's good that he's getting all that."

The Knights added Chris Hewitt and Ed Pinkham as the cornerbacks and secondary coaches. Hewitt's returning to familiar territory, once serving as a defensive graduate assistant on the Scarlet Knights staff in 2004. Pinkham worked for Colgate's football program the past decade. The Raiders promoted him to Associate Head Coach in 2007.

Red-shirt fullback Jourdan Brooks compliments Robinson and Young in the backfield.

"He's done a nice job. He's trained hard," Schiano said of the 6-1 235-pound powerful back. "He's leaned his body down, really a very talented guy."

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