Besides a few dropped passes, it was generally a good practice Monday morning.
In just shoulder pads and shorts, and still with many players out due to injury, the ones who did practice did fairly well.
Perhaps the biggest story was Darius Bell having easily his best day in practice so far in fall camp. In the 11-on-11s in particular, he made the throws, getting it to his receivers on time and on their number. He also made a few plays with scrambles, finding receivers in broken-play situations. Bell made a strong 40-yard pass to Jerry Johnson down the sideline, hitting him in stride. Bell also did some damage with his legs on running plays.
With Kevin Prince still out, Bell and Richard Brehaut took all of the snaps with the 1s and 2s. Brehaut, too, had a good day, being efficient in his throws.
Prince said afterward he was going to try to throw a little in the afternoon and if he felt better perhaps tomorrow he could get some practice reps.
There were still a number of players out due to injury.
TE Joseph Fauria is still out with a hamstring. Cory Harkey returned but had limited reps. Because of a lack of depth at tight end, Jayson Allmond returned to the position, after spending one day as a defensive tackle.
F-Back Morrell Presley has concussive symptoms.
Linebacker Patrick Larimore still didn’t practice.
Safety Stan McKay is still out with concussive symptoms.
OL Jeff Baca is still in his boot.
Receiver Josh Smith dressed, and went through a few drills, seemingly healthy, but didn’t participate in anything that involved potential contact.
A standout for the day was receiver Ricky Marvray, who made a spectacular catch on a ball over the middle from Bell . He had to go up for it, caught it, got hit in the air, which spun him around and landed in the endzone for a touchdown. Marvray looked good for most of the practice, making nice catches in traffic.
It’s always hard to determine whether the offense looks better because it actually is better or because the defense is worse – but the offense definitely looks better. There are some holes to run through, and there are quite a few less virtual sacks in practice than in recent memore.
With holes provided, all three tailbacks – Derrick Coleman, Johnathan Franklin and Malcolm Jones – did their share. Once Jones gets past the line of scrimmage, his momentum and weight start leaning forward and he looks like a defensive back punisher.
The dropped balls came from the F-back spot – from Anthony Barr and Christian Ramirez. And Rick Neuheisel let them know it during the practice and in the after-practice talk to the team.
Dalton Hilliard took some reps with the 1s at strong safety. He had some good reads on running plays where he stopped the ball carrier at the line of scrimmage.
One of the most interesting sub-plots of practice is the clear rivalry between Nelson Rosario and Aaron Hester. In the 1-on-1s, Hester makes it a point to cover Rosario , and get up on him at the line of scrimmage to jam him. You can tell there’s some good, hopefully healthy, competition between the two.
When do you think you’ll be back out there?
‘’There’s no specific timetable. It’s different for different injuries. Some injuries there’s a specific timetable. This one is just kind of, whenever you feel like you can do it and right now, throwing wouldn’t be good for me. I did some handoffs today, some individual stuff, and am doing a little bit more running and am getting comfortable with that. It’s just a slow process trying to build it back up.’’
Can you run at full speed or are you just jogging?
‘’I’d say probably like 75 percent right now, in terms of trying to get to top speed.’’
The last time you practiced was Tuesday, right? Are you getting nervous at all?
‘’It’s definitely frustrating. You know, there’s not much I can do about it. There’s not too much sense in sitting around and worrying about it, I’ve just got to keep going to treatments and whenever I get back I get back.’’
Are you surprised at the length of time you’ve been out?
‘’I’ve heard, my dad, whenever I have an injury or something, he always does research on it, naturally, and he was telling me major league pitchers go through this sometimes and they’re out for up to a week. Tomorrow will make a week. I’m not necessarily surprised. I was definitely hoping to be back sooner than that. I was hoping it wouldn’t take that long. But like I said it is what it is and we’ve just got to work with what we’ve got.’’
Did you get to do some throwing in the training room?
‘’I’m going to just do some on the side this afternoon in practice. We’ll see how it feels. Even if it feels great, they don’t want to push it too fast, so even if it feels great throwing on the side we’re not going to do any throwing this afternoon. But if it does feel good today maybe we’ll get a little more action tomorrow.’’
Neuheisel's Post-Practice Comments: