The only significant thing that actually happened this morning -- remember, shorts and T-shirts, no hitting, no blocking so practices these first few days will be uneventful-- was that defensive end Greg Romeus limped off and failed to finish practice. It looks like he tweaked his ankle a little bit and I'd say based on what we've been told it is just a minor injury and he should be fine.
Of course, I can recall several times over the past few years being told something was "minor" or "day-to-day" and a guy ended up being out for the season.
My favorite story about the whole "he is day-to-day" stuff was two years ago when, two days after 50,000 people watched Adam Gunn get taken off the field on a stretcher with a neck injury -- and about 20 minutes after a couple of us saw him walking gingerly into the offices with a neck brace on and talked to him and he told us he had a broken bone in his neck and was out for the year -- we were told he was improving and was day-to-day.....
However, in this case, seeing how it went down and given the fact that Romeus did walk off under his own power - I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt that yeah, he is probably going to be back tomorrow.
This kind of injury stuff is always a very sensitive issue with coaches which is why the Big East has tried to bring some uniformity to it by having every team issue injury reports on Monday and Thursday of each week.
The injury reports will consist of two phases - on Monday, teams will release the names of every player who is out for the season and/or requires some sort of surgery. Then on Thursday players will be graded (like the NFL system) and listed as either probable, questionable, doubtful or out. I like it because it takes a lot of the silliness out of the whole process of reporting injuries, though I am sure there will still be some - or at least one - of the more paranoid coaches out there in the league who will be less than truthful with it.
Other notes from today's practice:
** It appears to me that the one area of concern and one spot to keep an eye on is the corner spot opposite of Antwuan Reed. There is no question Reed is going to be a very good player - and he'll only get better considering he's going to spend the next month covering Jonathan Baldwin - but the other side through two days of camp has been somewhat of a disaster as neither Saheed Imoru or Ricky Gary has played particularly well. In fact, this morning both were beat several times each on long passes by insert-receiver not named Jonathan Baldwin's-name-here. Yes, it is early and they aren't in pads but unfortunately you don't need pads to be able to cover and stay with receivers so this is clearly a work in progress. If this keeps up and neither of these two guys pulls it together I wonder if coaches would at least consider moving Jarred Holley to corner since they do have Andrew Taglianetti to step in at safety. I doubt that would happen since they like Holley so much as a safety but it would be very interesting to see how tempted they will become if things don't improve. Again, it is early and they haven't put on pads but not a good start for those two right now. As an aside, though, Reed is very, very good.
** The Tristan Roberts experience is not going to be without some growing pains. Today he received plenty of instruction from coaches on where to be and what to do when he gets there and that is to be expected because he hasn't played at all really since he arrived at Pitt. If he continues to improve, holds on to that job (and frankly, there is no reason to believe he won't as it is clear that Greg Williams has a long road to haul just to regain the confidence coaches had in him before last season) and has a good season he would be one of the best stories of redemption on this team. Last year at this time there was some real questions about him and whether he really wanted to be a football player and whether he was ever going to turn into a productive player. But like I wrote yesterday, something clicked in the offseason and he has really stepped up. Now let's see if he can finish the job and develop into a productive linebacker when the games begin.
** A couple of the receivers who may not play much certainly have ability and that is why that receiver's group is by far the deepest unit on the entire team. We all know about Baldwin and Mike Shanahan, who I swear I've tried to keep track but to the best of my memory I don't know that I've seen him drop a pass, but today Devin Street, Ed Tinker and Cam Saddler all made some really great catches and big plays. Street, who coaches have raved about for a year, looks to me a lot like a young Steve Breaston in his uniform. He has those long, skinny legs and he is still slim and as a result it appears as if he isn't running fast - until you realize he is blowing past everyone who is trying to cover him. He really has a high upside.
** Speaking of guys who catch the ball well -- Mike Cruz has really impressed me with his hands. He catches everything thrown his way (today he made a really nice one-handed grab of a horrible pass and held on even after he took a little bit of a shove) and frankly will be a very unheralded but important weapon for this team. I expect him to have about 30 catches and maybe five or six touchdowns this year and his presence will be a very nice security blanket for Tino Sunseri. He isn't going to be like Dorin Dickerson and run past people to make big plays, but he is a different kind of player, one who is more two-dimensional (he's a pretty good blocker) than Dickerson was so he'll give defenses someone else to think about.
** Yesterday, I talked about the "Look Test" and would be remiss if I didn't say that Dan Mason clearly passes it. He just looks like a middle linebacker. And a scary one at that. Dude just has the right disposition and attitude to be a nasty middle linebacker. And that is such an important part of this defense - a guy in the middle who can make plays. Obviously you want a guy who is going to make plays and tackles - that is the way the defense is designed, which is why Pitt's middle linebackers the past few years have had 6,983,849 tackles each year -- but what Mason brings is that additional element of a guy who is going to make plays AND perhaps set the tone with a bone-jarring, decleating hit early in a game that sends a message to the offense that they better account for him on every play. I remember when Gerald Hayes (which should give you an idea of how long I've been on this beat now) was patrolling the middle and it always seemed like early in the game you'd see a running back duck into a hole looking for a big run only to get blown up by Hayes and knocked out of his shoes. Said running back would then spend the rest of the game looking out of the corner of his eyes hoping to avoid No. 51. I think Mason will have that kind of an impact on games, too.
** Several walk-ons have joined the team.They are -- Sophomore wide receiver Jake Delmonico (Blackhawk); Freshman punter Drake Greer (Bishop Canevin); Freshman fullback Adam Lazenga (Bethel Park); Freshman defensive back Joseph Lopez (Don Bosco Prep); Freshman defensive back Phil Peckich (Montour); Freshman defensive back Steve Valenza (Pine-Richland); Freshman wide receiver Brett Zuck (Keystone). Valenza, by the way, had a pretty good practice this morning.