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Talkin' Bout Practice - August 13

Written by Sam Werner on .

PittFB081313Pitt had its second two-a-day of training camp today, and media were allowed to view the first of the two practice sessions (the second one will be tonight and is closed). The Panthers were inside today, and here's a brief recap of what went down...

- Once again, linebacker Todd Thomas was not present at practice. There's still no update on his situation, although the fact that he hasn't transferred anywhere yet would seem to indicate that a possible return is in the works. Pitt coach Paul Chryst has made it very clear that he doesn't plan on discussing the situation until something changes, so we'll just have to wait and see.

- In other linebacker personnel news, Nicholas Grigsby and Bam Bradley were back at practice today after missing some time this weekend to attend the funeral of a family member.

- Cornerback Trenton Coles sat out of practice with an injury, though Chryst didn't make it sound like it was serious. He was still there and in pads. In team drills, Jahmahl Pardner took his spot as the first defensive back off the bench in nickel packages. Like Coles, Pardner took the outside receiver when he came on and K'Waun Williams (who was back in practice today) slides over to take the slot guy. I know the staff is high on Pardner (enough to put him on the field as a freshman last season) so I would expect him to play a role on the defense in some capacity this year.

- Running back Isaac Bennett also was present and in pads, but did not practice today. He had a large, large brace on his right leg (so big that he couldn't even walk normally). He injured his leg during Saturday's practice, and Chryst did not set a timetable for his return. From what I'm hearing, the injury will not require surgery, but it's more serious than just the normal camp bumps and bruises.
In Bennett's absence, freshman James Conner was routinely the first running back on the field with the first team during 11-on-11 drills, which would seem to indicate that he has creeped up to take that No. 2 spot on the depth chart behind Bennett. Conner doesn't look out of place running with that group and, while it's obviously less than ideal to rely that much on a freshman, he'll be able to at least contribute on the offense this season.

- Defensive end Bryan Murphy also missed today's practice, but he was not there for most of it and only made a cameo appearance in a jersey and no pads. Like all the other guys, Chryst did not divulge any specifics of the injury, and said there was even a chance Murphy could return for tonight's session.
With him out, Ejuan Price got some first team reps at defensive end. He had been used as a standup rush linebacker mostly, but today he also played a good deal with his hand down. It looks like he's morphing into a more traditional type of defensive end, though I'm sure he'll still move around a bit on the defense. Jack Lippert and Shakir Soto also got first team reps in Murphy's spot.

- The longer camp goes on, the more I think TJ Clemmings might win the right tackle job. I know a lot of people (myself include) thought Dorian Johnson would be the favorite for the spot, but Clemmings has really looked good and seems to have solidified his spot atop the depth chart. Obviously, things could change, but right now I think he's got the best shot at earning the job.
That said, I still expect Johnson to play this year. Offensive linemen get banged up a lot, and he's probably the next best option at tackle. It might also be a good idea to get him some experience for when he's almost certainly starting in 2014.

- Safety Cullen Christian had the only interception of today's practice, grabbing a ball thrown by Chad Voytik that was tipped by intended receiver Tyler Boyd.

- It appears the coaching staff liked what they saw from freshman Matt Galambos at the end of last week, because he was still on the second team at the Will linebacker spot next to Mike linebacker Devon Porchia today even with Grigsby back (though he got some snaps too).

- Here are a couple of videos from our post-practice interviews:
RS Sr. QB Tom Savage:

QB coach Brooks Bollinger:

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