Wednesday's first practice started off a little slowly, with the team going through walkthroughs with what was apparently little energy. After the team got through the walkthrough and went into the stretching period, which took about 15 minutes or so, Coach Mora had them restart the entire practice, from the beginning of the walkthrough, with more energy. After that, the energy level was better.
Devin Lucien sat out again, and Mora confirmed that it was a very minor concussion. Damien Thigpen went down during practice with what Mora called minor leg tightness. Thigpen has had hamstring issues in the past. He worked on the exercise bike for much of practice. Ian Taubler remained out, after being taken out for heat related issues yesterday.
Alexandru Ceachir made it back to practice, and worked with both the 1's and the 2's at left and right guard. The first string offensive line today started out as Xavier Su'a-Filo, Ben Wysocki, Jake Brendel, Brett Downey, and Torian White, but Ceachir worked in as the left guard toward the latter half of practice, replacing Wysocki. Tre Hale participated in the walkthrough, and then sat out the last of practice.
The remainder of the missing linemen stayed out, but Mora said after practice that Simon Goines could be making his way back this evening or for tomorrow' practice.
The punt returners today were Steven Manfro, Shaquelle Evans, Kenny Walker, Devin Fuller, and Ahmaad Harris, with Manfro getting the first reps. The team didn't spend long in special teams, but the only one who mishandled a punt was Walker, who then picked it up and made some nice cuts.
For the third straight day, Seali'i Epenesa was the primary nose tackle, with Brandon Willis working with the second team. Although both have had good camps, Epenesa is a bigger load than Willis, and does a better job in run defense of holding up multiple blockers.
Aaron Wallace worked in with the 1's at right outside linebacker at various points, but it doesn't sound like he's in the mix to start there.
Anthony Jefferson continues to get work at safety, as Tracy reported over the weekend. Coach Martin said after practice that it's because he's such a heavy hitter, and he likes putting his body on guys. Before spring, a huge emphasis with the defensive backs was building versatility, and it seems like that's what Martin is trying to build, with Brandon Sermons, Andrew Abbott, and Anthony Jefferson all able to play corner, safety, or nickel.
Brett Hundley and Richard Brehaut both had nice days, with Hundley looking better than he's looked since the first few days of camp. He threaded the needle on a couple of nice passes during the initial period of 11 on 11, hitting Joseph Fauria and Steven Manfro on successive passes over the middle. Brehaut, in his series, hit Grayson Mazzone deep just as he was coming free in zone coverage.Kevin Prince looked a little shaky today, throwing a couple of balls into receivers' feet. Jerry Neuheisel didn't get much work today, after playing more yesterday.
Hundley's best throw came during the 7 on 7, when he hit Roosevelt Davis down the field on a ball that traveled probably 35 yards, over Ryan Hofmeister.
Fabian Moreau and Kenny Walker are both pretty fast, but Moreau's speed is a little deceptive, as he's a bit more of a glider. Walker looks electric at times, and it's going to be a surprise if he doesn't play this year. He runs effective routes, has good hands, and can make plays with his legs. Even with the punt he dropped, it looked like he would have been able to get a nice return.
Malcolm Jones had another good day running the ball, and looks quicker than he did in the spring. As he started to do in the spring, he's squaring up to the line of scrimmage more, which is keeping him getting tripped up, and allowing him to build up some power.
Steven Manfro had a great play during 11 on 11, taking a swing pass about 30 yards for a touchdown, beating the safeties to the corner and then motoring past them.
In the kicking game, it was a rough day for walk on Justin Moreno, who missed from 22 and 35 yards before hitting a 30 yarder. Ka'imi Fairbairn looked better, making from 22, 30, and 35 before missing just left on a 30 yarder. The team didn't try any longer field goals today.We're hearing that the concussion symptoms Jeff Baca is experiencing are not considered serious at this time, and the intention is for him to return to the field when the team resumes practice at UCLA.
There is one caveat, however. According to a source, his return is based on, given his symptoms, what is expected to be a normal recovery. They are leaving the door slightly ajar in case Baca doesn't progress at the normal rate.