Vanderbilt opens spring practice

The Vanderbilt Commodores opened their 2006 spring practice with a 2 hour and thirty minute workout on Tuesday evening. The Commodores, who wore shorts and shoulder pads, focused on team conditioning, team drills and individual skills during the session.

Headlining the Vanderbilt staff's area of emphasis for the spring is finding a replacement for All-SEC quarterback Jay Cutler. Red shirt sophomore Chris Nickson and red shirt freshman MacKenzi Adams will likely battle until the fall for the starting spot. Other positions of concern for Vandy include linebacker, center, defensive end, safety and cornerback. "Of course, we have to replace a great quarterback in Jay (Cutler), but I think we have two quality guys in Chris and Mackenzi competing to win that job," Johnson said. "We also have to find replacements for several other outstanding players no longer with us, such as Moses (Osemwegie) at linebacker.

Johnson was pleased with the first day of practice. "I liked what I saw from the guys. It's the first practice and you expect them to be fresh and have plenty of energy, but we have a lot of guys who were going hard. I thought the competitive spirit of the guys was very good," Johnson said.

Offensive lineman Mac Pyle, tailback Jeff Jennings, kicker Bryant Hahnfeldt, defensive end Curtis Gatewood and cornerback Sean Dixon did not practice due to injuries but are expected to return for preseason practice in August.

Johnson plans to conduct five practices this week, working his squad each day except Friday. The team will practice in pads starting on Thursday. The sessions are closed to the public.

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