PRACTICE: Ledgerwood goes full extension

PULLMAN -- Linebacker Mike Ledgerwood has been steadily improving this season according to assistant Jody Sears and on Wednesday, he had quite a practice. But another 'backer, Louis Bland, tweaked a knee. Meanwhile, injury questions up front on offense also remain as Saturday's tilt with Cal draws near and Alex Hoffman-Ellis turned in the hit of the day.

Midway through practice, Louis Bland dinged his knee, the same one that's been slow to heal since the spring. Bland's right fist was clenched as he came off the field but Paul Wulff indicated he might be ready in time for Cal.

"It's just the same knee he irritated. Other than that we'll probably see how he responds tomorrow," said Wulff.

Coming in relief of Bland at the middle 'backer spot was sophomore Mike Ledgerwood, and he had himself quite an afternoon. During 11-on-11 drills with the 1's against the 1's, QB Jeff Tuel tried to to hit a receiver near the sideline but Ledgerwood dove headlong and and picked it off.

Later, Ledgerwood nearly hauled in a second pick against the scout team, when he again dove full extension to deflect a Kevin Lopina pass intended for WR Colin Huemmer.

"He's been really coming on since the beginning of the year with the consistency, and we've been really pleased with Michael. He's doing a really good job," said co-defensive coordinator Jody Sears.

SIMILAR TO TUESDAY's practice, Tuel bounced back after his early mistake and looked great for the remainder of practice.

During passing drills, Tuel was efficient in hitting his receivers in stride, and on the few passes that weren't picture perfect, his receivers did their part in hauling in some great catches.

TE Tony Thompson had one of them, with a nice stretch to haul in a Tuel pass that freshman corner Anthony Carpenter was closing fast on.

Tuel, who will make his third career start this Saturday against Cal, later in the session connected on an absolutely beautiful 40 yard spiral against the No. 1 defense.

"We had a good day here, executed pretty well...the offense is feeling really good," said Tuel, who added that the bye week was beneficial. "We've been refreshed and I think we're rolling."

THE OFFENSIVE LINE also had their moments on Wednesday, opening up good holes for the run game that allowed RB's Logwone Mitz and Carl Winston some big gainers against the first team defense.

While Zack Williams looks primed to return at left guard against Cal, LT Steven Ayers and right guard B.J. Guerra appear less certain. Both saw some reps working with the first team but Ayers towards the end of practice rolled his injured ankle and stayed on the ground momentarily. He was able to get up under his own power, but did not return.

Ayers' injury did not look to be serious, but Wulff said how much Guerra and Ayers will be used against the Golden Bears remains in question.

"At this point, Steven Ayers and B.J. Guerra are somewhat questionable on how much they will play, it just depends on how they feel between now and Saturday," said Wulff.

Wulff said he expects MLB Alex Hoffman-Ellis to be ready to start against Cal. Hoffman-Ellis saw an increased amount of reps running with the 1's today, rotating in with Ledgerwood.

The hit of the day belonged to Hoffman-Ellis who caught RB Logwone Mitz mid-air and decleated the Redmond product to the ground.

P Reid Forrest was not at practice on Wednesday, he went home to Ephrata to be with his family following the death of his grandfather. He is expected back in time for Cal.

The receiving corps spent around 10 minutes working on specific technique with WR's coach Mike Levenseller.

K Patrick Rooney (hip flexor) returned to practice Wednesday, and split time with K Nico Grasu on kickoffs during special teams drills.

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