Spring Practice #11 Notebook

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Seventy yards separated running back Mason Robinson from the opponent's end zone, while 65 yards distanced tailback Jourdan Brooks from the imaginary vertical plane. Ignoring the defensive pressure, the tandem excelled for a combined 135 yards, outgunning the secondary on each energetic surge.

Of course, Brooks and Robinson manufactured touchdowns during Rutgers football's spring training session, not yet in the regular season. Head Coach Greg Schiano praised their performances after Saturday's practice.

"Jordan and Mason had nice runs of long lengths. Joe (Martinek) banged it up in there pretty steadily," Schiano said. "I think overall it was a pretty good effort by those guys."

"I'm thrilled that our backs can go the distance," Schiano said. "I'm really disappointed defensively that we didn't get them on the ground. We didn't do a good job of getting them on the ground today."

Meanwhile, construction continues in the background of each and every practice. Schiano discussed the positive message of the stadium expansion, which will add close to 1,000 new mezzanine level seats for the 2008 season and 13,000 additional lower level seats for the 2009 season, according to Athletic Director Bob Mulcahy.

"This continues to show that this program is on the rise," Schiano said. "We're not stopping. We're just going to keep doing it and doing it. When it's done, it'll be great. Right now, it's a little messy."

After Robinson's burst, two linemen limped off the field at different points with lower body injuries. Trainers attended to defensive lineman George Johnson, who landed awkwardly during an early first-on-first formation. While Johnson's prognosis remains unknown, Schiano hopes for a speedy and safe recovery for his junior standout.

"I'm worried about George," Schiano said. "He's a tough guy. He's had his best spring. He's had his best period of practice collectively that he's ever had as a player. I'm saying my prayers."

On the offensive side, true sophomore left tackle Anthony Davis started with the first team, but finished the day on the sideline. Davis sprained his ankle, but should return either this week or by next Saturday's final spring session.

"I think he's got an ankle (injury)," Schiano said of Davis. "I think he'll be okay. He sprained it pretty good."

Davis serves to protect quarterback Mike Teel, who remains unhittable, literally. Teel wears the green jersey, whereas the reserve signal callers don a standard scarlet and red uniform.

Teel, now in his fifth and final year of eligibility On the Banks, surpassed 3,000 yards throwing in the 2007 campaign. Although he desires full contact in practice, Schiano wisely enforces the non-contact rule on his leader.

"I think Mike's very comfortable," Schiano said. "Because we're letting the other guys hit, get hit, Mike wants to get hit. I said (to him), 'No, we'll wait on that Mike.'"

Rutgers concludes spring practice with the annual Scarlet-White game next Saturday, April 19 at 2 p.m. at Rutgers Stadium.

Notes: Schiano on injured defensive back Zaire Kitchen, who continues to rehabilitate knee injuries: "He's really a determined young man, so it doesn't amaze me. It's tough though. I'm just impressed about how he's been able to keep himself positive."

Two is Better than One: Rutgers used a two tight-end formation on offense. "You saw more of that today," Schiano said. "We're making sure we work on that. I thought we executed it well. The more personnel groups you can use, the harder you are to be defended."

Play of the Day: Truthfully, I want to present the award to the tandem of Mike Teel and Tiquan Underwood, who hooked up on a flea-flicker, catching the defense off-guard. But, Jourdan Brooks earns the trophy for his 65-yard touchdown dash. The reason lies in Brooks' ability to run the last 50 yards or so without his right shoe.


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