Pitt practiced outside down on the South Side this afternoon, the first practice of two practices partially open to the media this week. We got to watch the first half hour, and here's a quick rundown of some notable observations.
- The best news for Pitt is that linebacker Todd Thomas was back on the field in full pads. This was the first time we've seen Thomas out there since early in fall camp. He wasn't wearing a green no-contact jersey, but also didn't participate fully in the team sessions of practice. I don't want to venture a guess as to Thomas' availability for Virginia Tech this week, but we'll find out from Paul Chryst as the week continues what his status is.
If and when he comes back, Thomas gives the Panthers a boost at linebacker. When he was on the field last year, he was one of Pitt's most effective tacklers. With his athleticism, he's also pretty solid in pass coverage, which is obviously a benefit in terms of versatility at the position.
- K'Waun William was in a green no-contact jersey, but seemed to participate in most of what we were able to see. He made the trip down to Cincinnati last week, and even took part in warmups before the game, but didn't end up seeing the field. My guess would be that he was a true "game-time decision" and just wasn't able to go once he hit the field. Given that he was so close last week, it would seem like the coaching staff is just being cautious with him. If he stays in the green jersey all week, though, that would be a bit of a concern.
- Just a day after moving up to first-string on the depth chart, defensive end Bryan Murphy wasn't in pads today. For a unit that wasn't very deep to begin with and has had some massive struggles this season, that obviously isn't a good sign.
We get players and offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph after practice today, so I'll be back later this evening with a report from what they had to say.