Thursday Practice Notes and Observations

Notes and observations from the Horns' Thursday practice at Denius.

The top three receivers: Tony Jeffery, Limas Sweed and Brian Carter. At least that's the first three-wide trio on the field during Thursday night's 11-on-11. Throw Eric Enard in the mix and you have the current top four wideouts based on practice rotation. After that, things are bit iffy, although of the "elder" receivers, Tyrell Gatewood has caught my attention more than the others, while newbies Jordan Shipley, Nate Jones and Myron Hardy continue to impress. (Chris Ogbonnaya, though, had one of the best catches of the day on a day of outstanding grabs: on a deep route early in wide receiver drills, the true freshman dove for an overthrown ball, getting one hand on the ball and managing to pull it to his body for a catch before he crashed to the Denius grass.)

In. Out. In. Out.: David Thomas and Bo Scaife. The dreaded "r" word (rotation) is operable again this year, but not at QB (at least not yet). Although Thomas is the first TE on the field with the first team, he and Scaife appear to truly be co-starters, with Scaife rotating in for the second play. Then Thomas. Then Scaife. Etc.

Big objects in rearview mirror are faster than they appear: Frank Okam. During 11-on-11 work, Jordan Shipley took an end around and weaved his way 38 yards through the defense (which, if tackling, probably would have brought him down near the line of scrimmage) for a TD. The defender bearing down on him as he crossed the goalline? Three-hundred pound DT Okam. We saw it in the U.S. Army All-Star game back in January (when he made a downfield play that few linemen have the athletic ability and speed to make) and we're seeing it so far this August: Okam has sideline-to-sideline ability.

Mano y mano: Limas Sweed vs. Michael Griffin. These two absolutely battled during WR vs. DB one-on-one drills. Griffin, playing press coverage on their first match-up, stayed step for step with the redshirt freshman receiver on a go route down the left sideline, but Sweed made a spectacular, diving catch near the pylon of Eric Foreman's 45-yard toss. (Two plays later, Tyrell Gatewood turned in an almost identical performance on the same route vs. Brandon Foster.) Later, with Griffin again in press coverage, the sophomore safety won the round by sticking to Sweed's hip and swatting away the ball just before the lanky receiver could latch on.

Mas mano y mano: Tim Crowder vs. Jonathan Scott. During DL vs. OL one-on-one drills, DE Crowder blew around LT tackle Scott and would have blown up any pass play in live action. Brian Robison turned the same trick vs. Scott yesterday on an outside speed rush, exposing what has been and looks to still be a trouble spot in the play of the junior tackle who is charged with protecting Vince Young's blind side.

Closing speed: Andrew Kelson. During WR vs. DB one-on-ones, Myron Hardy opened up a bit of space on Kelson early in a deep route but the true freshman safety quickly closed the gap to force an incompletion.

The Michael Irvin it's-not-offensive-pass-interference-if-they-don't-call-it award goes to: Nate Jones. This kid knows the art of the subtle push-off. He's done it several times so far this week without drawing a flag. (If you saw Jones' TD reception on the opening drive of the recent THSCA all-star game, you know exactly what I'm talking about.)

Edge-y: Nic Redwine. As you would expect given his size, the true freshman DE is most successful when he uses his burst and then his speed to get outside his blocker. When an OL gets his feet in between Redwine and his target, he tends to be tied up and thus a non-factor either as a pass rusher or run stopper.

Run, Forrest, run: Jason Glynn, Will Allen and Justin Blalock. Between the three, we have six legs. And six orthopedic braces. Add in Kyle Thornton and Mike Garcia and it's a perfect 10 for 10.

Already, a demotion: Eric Foreman. Well, not really. Matt Nordgren, sidelined on Tuesday and Wednesday with shoulder soreness, returned to limited action Thursday, participating in some passing drills as the No. 2 QB (while Chance Mock recovers from his recently aggravated summer ankle injury). Foreman, though, handled most of the second-team 11-on-11 duties, and looks like a totally different quarterback than the one we saw on Tuesday. Vince Young and Chance aren't in danger of losing their depth chart spots to Foreman, but Nordgren certainly is if the former SAM 'backer continues to improve at this pace.

Kickoff return pairs: Tarell Brown and Selvin Young, Billy Pittman and Ryan Palmer, Brandon Foster and Jordan Shipley, and Ramonce Taylor and Pittman. Brown and Young are the incumbents.

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