Sorry for the slight delay today, but we're back with a rundown of Pitt's fourth practice of 2014 today. In case you missed it, here's my story from today's PG on freshman running back Chris James, who is hoping to make an impact for the Panthers this season. As for today's session, the team were back outside this morning, and here's a rundown of what we saw...
- First, a couple of wide receiver notes. Freshman Adonis Jennings was back for the full session today after missing the last few days with what he said was a groin injury. He was back, and looked impressive. He's still probably a bit skinnier than you'd ideally want a big-time receiver to be, but that's to be expected from a freshman. On one play today he caught a short dig route from Chad Voytik and was able to take it down the field 30 or 40 yards. He's very fluid moving on the field and seems to have a good sense of body control. He took a handful of reps with the first team today, and I'd be surprised if those don't increase as training camp wears on.
- On the flip side of things, receiver Tyler Boyd missed virtually all of today's session. He was indoors working with trainers, and Paul Chryst said after practice that it was basically just a rest/maintenance day for Boyd. It sounds like that will be something that continues throughout camp with Boyd and various other players. To some degree, it makes sense. Boyd is probably the most important on Pitt's roster this season, so the coaches probably feel it's more important to keep him healthy and rested rather than run him ragged on the field.
- Defensive back Phillipie Motley had a walking boot on his left foot that Chryst loquaciously described as "a little something with his foot." He said he was day-to-day.
- Running back Isaac Bennett took part in individual drills and 7-on-7 situations, but did not see the field during 11-on-11 periods. Today, sophomore Rachid Ibrahim was generally the second running back out there with the first team following James Conner.
- Defensive end David Durham made a nice play during the first part of team drills, jumping over the pile to stuff Conner on a 3rd-and-short situation.
- Trenton Coles had an interception on a tipped pass that was intended for Ronald Jones but tipped in the air by Lafayette Pitts. Coles is going to be an important player for Pitt this season, given how he has been thrust into a starting role with Titus Howard's suspension. He's got all the potential in the world, but has yet to put it all together. One of the biggest problems he'll face is when he has to go against bigger receivers. He's listed at 6-3, 175 pounds, and even that's probably a bit generous. There was a point today when he lined up against Manasseh Garner and it just didn't seem fair how much bigger Garner was. Coles will have to be very fundamentally sound, or else the coaches will have to figure out ways to cover bigger receivers that can body up on Coles.
- Conner, once again, took probably three or four snaps at defensive end. Not a ton, but he's definitely getting his work in there.
- It looks like Rori Blair is definitely making his way up the defensive end rotation, to the point where he might be the first or second guy off the bench right now (especially in nickel situations) behind Durham and Shakir Soto. That says just as much (if not more) about Pitt's lack of depth there than it does about Blair, but he's a guy who Pitt will probably have to count on at points this year. The good news is that, physically, he doesn't really look like a freshman. He looks big enough to go against college offensive linemen and the extra work he got from being here in the spring should help too. It's not an ideal situation, obviously, but it could be worse.