Happy Monday, everyone. Hope everyone had a good weekend and enjoyed the six hours of baseball the Pirates treated us to yesterday. Today is the final day of true two-a-days for Pitt, and they practiced outdoors this morning. And away we go...
- Ray Graham was back on the field yesterday after missing four consecutive practices last week. He said he didn't suffer a setback or anything, but said the rest last week was part of his prescribed rehab plan. He was in a green jersey today, which according to him is somewhere between a red "No Touching!" jersey and the regular blue jersey. In fact, Graham said he took a helmet to the right knee at one point in practice and it actually felt... pretty good.
"A helmet went straight into my right knee and it kind of hurt when I first got up, but I guess that kind of knocked some scar tissue out because when I got back up I was able to move around a little bit more and it felt a little better," he said.
"We didn’t think it was supposed to be a good thing, but it was for me. I’m kind of glad it happened."
- As for the rest of the running backs, Isaac Bennett got significantly less work today. He had been getting a lot of carries with Graham and freshman Rushel Shell out with injury, so today was likely just a chance to give him some rest. Shell was back in practice today, and got probably the most extensive work he had in a while. He looked pretty good today, though he still appears to be behind most of the other running backs on the depth chart.
- Redshirt junior walk-on Emanuel Rackard got some time with the first unit at linebacker, filling the spot of the injured Eric Williams. A lot of guys have filled in that role since Williams has been out, including Jason Frimpong, Bam Bradley and Deaysean Rippy. Bradley was back out there a little bit again today.
- Safety Jason Hendricks and receiver Mike Shanahan returned to practice today. Hendricks stayed in the whole time, while Shanahan only practiced for the beginning portion. Paul Chryst said it was sort of a test run with Shanahan to see how he reacted to some activity. Of all the guys who have been down, Shanahan would concern me the least. As a fifth-year senior, he should focus on getting 100 percent healthy for the start of the season and not re-aggravate anything during two-a-days.
- Trey Anderson was back in pads today, but Chad Voytik still got all of the second-team reps during team drills. Chryst said it was still "too early to tell" if that move indicated that Voytik had passed Anderson.
- On sort of the same note, Chryst talked after practice about the process of identifying which freshman might redshirt this season.
"I think it’s starting to get closer of who could be in that position," he said. "I think it’s important to, if you’re going to use a guys year, that mentally they can handle it. That’s not to say if a guy didn’t play this year, he might be the best one in that group. I think we’ll kind of have a group of guys, still staying alive and see how they fit in and where they fit. There’s a group right now that you’ve got a pretty good indication that they’ll most likely redshirt."
- On Saturday's scrimmage, Chryst said the thing that jumped out most to him was mistakes on special teams.
"I think it’s reinforcing for the players that something magically’s not going to happen in a scrimmage," he said. "What you’re doing and who you are during the week and during practice is really pretty much what show up in the scrimmage."
- I'll have more on the offensive line tomorrow, but interesting to note that Artie Rowell mixed in with the first team at center. There's no way he supplants Ryan Turnley, who finished the practice with the first unit, but the coaching staff is giving guys some reps, even if the starting five look fairly set in stone.
- In case you missed it, my P-G story today was about walk-on freshman (and if/when he sees the field, certain future fan favorite) Chris Wuestner, who has gotten extensive first-team action in training camp.
That's all for now. Pitt will return to practice this evening, and I'll have a morning post up early tomorrow recapping that session. I'm also trying to put together a recruiting round-up. Pitt has had a couple of commitments over the last week or so, and some targets still out there. I will say this about Dorian Johnson, since I've gotten a lot of questions about him recently: I wouldn't hold your breath on him committing any time too soon. My colleague Mike White caught up with him last week, and he said Pitt and Ohio State were his top two, but that he planned to take some visits. I would say Pitt seems to have the inside track, since they were down to the wire with Penn State for his initial commitment. He was out here at Pitt with Tyler Boyd last week. I would caution, though, to count Urban Meyer out of a recruiting battle at your own risk.