The DC also said that Larry Dibbles, who reported at approximately 300 pounds, has told the defensive staff to "play me where you want to play me," opening the possibility that he will get looks at both tackle and end when full squad work begins on Saturday. "We're still looking for ends with quickness off the edge," Reese said (talking in general about the Horns' depth at the spot rather than about any shortcoming of Dibbles). Reese mentioned Bryan Pickryl and Chase Pittman as other true freshmen that the coaches are anxious to see perform with the vets. Pickryl missed the entire spring while recovering from a shoulder injury and Pittman turned in a strong late-spring performance at DE (after a short and somewhat lackluster tryout at TE). Pittman, though, will again get a look at both positions over the next few weeks, according to Reese. The urgency at DE is partly attributable to the uncertainty around Kalen Thornton's return. Reese said Thornton will probably participate in every other two-a-day practice and may be limited in scrimmage situations. "We don't need to scrimmage him to use him in (the first) game," he said. . . .
To give some perspective on the probability -- or lack thereof -- of Marco Martin playing this fall, Reese said that Thornton's surgery took place three weeks before Martin's. And although rehab times can vary, the 310-plus-pound defensive tackle is unlikely to surpass Thornton's recovery schedule, meaning he'll be at a distinct disadvantage in the playing time battle after being limited through at least two-a-days and perhaps far longer. . . .
The coaches had a good gauge on Martin's injury situation coming in, but another DT surprised Reese with his weight. Or lack thereof. Rodrique Wright slimmed down substantially from his high school days, shedding as many as 50 pounds, according to the DC. "In recruiting, he didn't look nearly as good as he looks right now," Reese said. "After one day, he looks the part to push those (returning DTs)." With Wright and Tully Janszen, and perhaps Dibbles and Kasey Studdard, battling at DT, Reese in a knowing understatement said that he bets "there's really good competition at tackle." . . .
Studdard, after spending the morning workout with the OLs, worked with the DLs during the evening practice. Clint Haney also flipped from O to D, working with the DBs this evening after a morning at running back. Robison continued to work with the LBs, although he ran at least one TE route (and made a nice catch of a Vince Young throw) during WR/TE vs. DB/LB drills. . . .
Haney joined morning practice kick returners Edorian McCullough and Matt Melton in shagging punts. Duane Akina, the coach in charge of the kick and punt returners, worked the three true freshmen in several different return-skill-building drills. One drill required the returner to hold a ball until just before the kicked ball reached his hands. At that point, the returner tossed the held ball in the air, tried to catch the kicked ball and then tried to catch the ball he had thrown up in the air. A couple of attempts by each returner failed to produce a successful double catch. Akina also had the return men stand with their backs to the kick until the ball started its downward arc, at which point they would turn, find the ball and then scramble to make the catch. That drill produced a few more positive results. The returners also worked on something that sounds simpler than it surely is: signaling for a fair catch while continuing to concentrate on the flight of the ball, get under the flight of the ball and then catch it. . . .
Although it's too early to pigeon hole the offensive linemen by specific position, particularly given that several of the newcomers will get a look at multiple spots on the line, in the limited OL work so far, Neale Tweedie (right) and Brett Valdez (left) have lined up at tackle, Justin Blalock (right) and Studdard (left) at guard, and Lyle Sendlein at C. . . .
Valdez and Blalock changed jersey numbers after the morning practice. Valdez, originally scheduled to wear No. 63, is now wearing No. 66 while Blalock, originally scheduled to wear No. 67, is now wearing No. 63.