Pitt put on full pads for the first time today, and you could tell. The contact was increased even from earlier this week when they were wearing shoulder pads. In case you missed it, here's my story from today's P-G about Pitt's options — albeit inexperienced ones — at receiver. Now, on to some notes from today's session...
- Receiver Tyler Boyd was back on the field today. He missed yesterday's practice for what Paul Chryst essentially said was a maintenance day. Chryst said he plans to do this with a number of guys as training camp continues, so keep an eye on it. No one notable was absent today.
- One thing that's been a theme of camp over the first week was more passes to the running backs. These are coming in the form of screens, swing passes and check-downs. It's tough to tell if this is a theme for Pitt this year, or if it's just part of their standard play installation. Either way, that's an area I expect the Panthers to improve in this year. Pitt running backs combined for just 29 receptions last year, but I think Chad Voytik's skill set is more conducive to these types of passes. That is, Tom Savage was more of a pure downfield passer, and Voytik's bread and butter might be roll outs and shorter passes to running backs, tight ends, etc.
- Trenton Coles laid a good hit on Jaymar Parrish during a contact drill. Let me repeat that: 175-pound Trenton Coles knocked down 270-pound Jaymar Parrish. I'm not sure how it happened, either.
That said, I think Coles' durability is something that will really be tested this season. He has the ability to make good plays, but needs to make them consistently and stay on the field. Like I mentioned yesterday, he is relatively small, so he needs to play smart. He suffered what looked like a minor groin injury later in practice, but it didn't appear serious.
- The team ran red zone drills at the end of practice. In general, it was first-team offense vs. first-team defense. Here's a rundown of what happened:
First drive (first team): Two runs up the middle by James Conner combined for six yards. Voytik was sacked by Todd Thomas on third down.
Second drive (second team): Trey Anderson completed a swing pass to Kevin Weatherspoon for eight yards, and Rachid Ibrahim ran left for four yards. On the third play, Anderson hit Ibrahim on a playaction pass in the flat for eight yards and the touchdown.
Third drive (1T): Voytik hit J.P. Holtz for 10 yards, followed up by a Conner run right for four yards. On 2nd-and-goal from the six, the offense took a delay of game penalty. From the 11, Conner ran right for three yards and Voytik hit Holtz again on third down for eight yards and a touchdown.
Fourth drive (2T): Anderson tried for Adonis Jennings deep in the end zone on the first play, but it fell incomplete. He tried again to Jester Weah on second down, and Weah got both hands on the ball but couldn't come down with it. On third down, Conner came in at defensive end and Anderson scrambled on a busted pass play but was short of the first down.
Fifth drive (1T): Voytik scrambled on the first play and was physically knocked down by David Durham (who quickly put his hands up to indicate he didn't mean to knock down the man in the red jersey). On second down, Voytik threw a nice fade pass to Weatherspoon who made a good play to bring it in.
That's all for today. Pitt's back on the practice field tomorrow for its final open practice of the first week of training camp.