Pads but No Matching Raincoats

With temperatures around 40 degrees and a light but steady rain falling, the Rutgers football team took to the practice field for its first spring practice in full pads. The anticipation of practicing in full gear was evident in Thursday's effort.

Indeed, even coach Schiano's spirits were undaunted by mother nature - Coach was seen giving a defensive lineman a well deserved and enthusiastic aerial chest bump during one on ones at mid field.

Nothing a day or two couldn't cure
While Tuesdays' practice may have had its fair share of miscues, Thursday's practice was quite a different affair with the receivers and quarterbacks able to connect repeatedly. The receivers looked more comfortable and focused, as catch after catch was made, delivered by the three quarterbacks (Domenic Natale - #1 on the pre-spring depth chart - Stephen Shimko and D.C. Jefferson) currently in direct competition with one another.

It Seems the rain has had an alternative impact in washing away the off-season cobwebs.

Coach's Take
Rutgers Football Coach Greg Schiano was content with his squad's first performance in pads.

"I wanted to see if a couple of the new kids would hit and they did, which is good," stated Schiano.

Save Tim Brown, the bulk of the WRs will be seeing action for the first time, and though they enjoyed a good initial day in pads, Coach Schiano offered an important caveat.

"I think it's dangerous to evaluate a bunch of freshmen (receivers) practice to practice. I think they're going to get better all spring."

It will be on the defensive side of the ball, and in particular, on the defensive line, where RU will have the benefit of returning significant veteran leadership. George Johnson, who earned high praises, looks to be leading the way.

"George [Johnson] has been a very productive player and leader on our football team, leading not only by his production but by the way he lives his life."

"I do, I agree," added Coach Schiano, in reference to Johnson having embraced his role as the cornerstone on the defensive line. "There are some strong leaders on defense," coach Schiano continued.

The hot topic is and will continue to be the QB spot, one not likely to be determined until summer camp.

"Obviously Dom (Natale) has the better feel than the other two guys. He has more experience but all three are steadily progressing."

Individual Notes
"Blair (Bines) looks good at 275 (lbs.), (Scott) Vallone is almost 270 (lbs) so they're getting bigger."

National Championship
In closing and in response to a question about his recent statement that Rutgers would win National Championships Coach Schiano reaffirmed his feelings.

"That's a long term vision but, who knows, we didn't think going into '06 that we would be two weeks away from playing for it."

"Someday our best will be the best."

Practice Extras
This Saturday's practice will take place inside Rutgers Stadium. Rutgers' first scrimmage will take place a week from Saturday, as well as one the following Saturday.

For those thinking of sneaking a peek at practice on Saturday, don't bother, as the inside of the Rutgers Stadium is no longer visible from River Rd. with the stadium expansion progressing nicely.


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