"The NCAA mandates that we have three days in shorts only, so we got that out of the way," Rodriguez said. "Even though we are just in helmets, we can still run full speed. Our guys seem to know that, and they are going full speed."
The defensive secondary, which was bolstered by the presence of Jahmile Addae, worked on a number of zone coverages during skeleton drills, and were later joined by the linebackers to get a full picture of the pass coverages. Addae, who is being held out of heavy contact work, ran with the first team during the limited contact practice.
Another staple of practices in the indoor facility is pursuit drills. The entire defense, reacting to an offensive shell, works on pursuit angles to get to the balls. Linebackers, spurs and bandits practice geting to their assigned gaps, while the cornerbacks and free safeties hone their pursuit paths to intercept ball carriers, especially on sweeps and plays that bounce to the outside of the field.
As is usually the case, work on the passing game progressed from individual matchups through 7-on-7 to full team sessions. In the head-to-head periods, one quarterback threw to one wide receiver against one defensive back. During those drills, Adam Jones was a standout, locking up nearly every receiver he faced.
The 7-on-7, or skeleton passing, was conducted at the fastest, or jet, pace of the offense. The offense worked on getting the ball back to an official and lining up for the next play. The highlight of this session was a Charles Hales to Milo Austin touchdown strike.
Offensive lineman Tim Brown continued to progress with his achilles tendon rehabilitation. Returning to the scene of his injury last fall, Brown went through warmups, and appears to be comfortable moving side to side.
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Although a good bit of the practice was devoted to passing work, some attention was paid to the running game. Quick whistles ended those plays when defenders closed on ball carriers.
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The punt team worked on rugby punting before heading out into the rain for some solo work at the Stadium.
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Plays of note on the afternoon included a pair of pass receptions and a defensive gem. Chris Henry displayed excellent body control in snaring a pass and dragging both feet inbounds for a touchdown, and tight end Ryan Thomas burned the entire defense on an obvious missed assignment for a long score on a seam route. Thomas took a toss from Hales in stride and galloped unopposed into the end zone. Defensively, cornerback Larry Williams got a bit of revenge by executing a perfectly timed breakup of a timing pattern intended for Chris Henry in the end zone.
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The team will lift weights on Thursday, then practice on Friday and Saturday as they conclude their second week of drills.
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"The intensity has been good," Rodriguez said after the team's sixth session of the spring. "I don't know if they like practice but if they don't, they are faking it pretty good, Rod joked. "They are running around and getting their work done. The young guys are still kind of confused at times, but they are working hard."