Practice #9 News and Notes

Senior Dom Natale had a little extra in his step at practice today as the offense rallied around the fiery quarterback after he got his helmet knocked off on a touchdown run during the scrimmage.

With Dom Natale asserting himself and making plays, Schiano sees a strong presence in the Sea Girt, N.J. native.

"I think he has a presence," Schiano said. "I think anytime leadership really counts is you have to make plays otherwise, you're talking. I think he made some plays. I think Dom's smart enough to know he couldn't do any good to lead until he makes some plays."

Natale, although not afraid to voice his opinion, said that the fire and energy just spawned from the competition.

"As far as that was, we were just competing," Natale said. "It was fourth and goal and we're just competitive guys just playing ball. … I'm a competitive guy. I'm a quiet guy when I need to be. When it's time to be assertive, I'll assert myself."

Injury update:
Ryan D'Imperio returned to practice today after a leg injury, but Schiano said "he's not out of the woods yet."

Defensive linemen Jonathan Freeny and Blair Bines are both "getting better" after ankle injuries, albeit slowly.

Wide receiver Tim Brown returned to practice today and fully participated, however tailback Kordell Young did not practice.

"I'm concerned," Schiano said of Young. "He had some good days. I think he just needs more rest. We're going to do whatever we need to do."

Position shakeups:
Junior Edmond Layrea has made strides at fullback, working with the second team, after his transition yesterday from his natural position of linebacker.

"We feel confident that he's a good athlete that can do a lot of things," Schiano said. "It's more of a need at each position. … We have better depth at linebacker than we do at fullback and we think he's a guy that can help us at fullback. Edmond is a great guy to have on field."

Redshirt freshman Marcus Witherspoon worked some at defensive end today as he may become a hybrid lineman/linebacker for the Knights.

D-Line changes:
With the injuries to Bines and Freeny, both Scott Vallone and Justin Francis have stepped up. Vallone played in Bines' stead with the first team today and Francis is the primary backup at defensive end without Freeny.

Sophomore Evan Lampert also saw time with the second team defensive line.

The Rimington Trophy committee released its 2009 Fall Watch List earlier today and and Rutgers' Ryan Blaszczyk (Medford Lakes, N.J.) has been named to the list. The award, given annually to the nation's top center, has placed 43 players on the watch list.

Blaszczyk, one of RU's captains for 2009, is one of 12 players named to the list for the second consecutive season.

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