Fun in the sun

I continue to be amazed by the atmosphere at practice these days. It is so much more lively than it was during the regular season. Guys are chirping away, yelling, celebrating, talking trash, everything. It looks like they are truly having fun. You have to wonder where it was a month or two ago.

I wouldn’t make too much of it, though. It’s kind of expected at this time. Practices aren’t as tedious right now because there is no game planning going on. The offense is going against the defense, instead of each going against scout teams. The players really get into going head to head.

But I think part of it also is the guys realizing they have just one game left, one more chance to prove what they are all about. Practice also can be a diversion from finals, which are going on right now.

Practice was real lively yesterday. Lavelle Hawkins, who professes to be a running back in a wide receiver’s body, took some reps at tailback and looked like he was having a blast (then again, he always looks that way). The guys really got into it. Cornerback Darian Hagan was having a spirited one-on-one showdown with DeSean Jackson.

A handful of guys missed practice because they had finals. Quarterback Nate Longshore also missed practice because he was down in Southern California to attend the dedication of Todd Longshore Park in Santa Clarita. Todd Longshore, Nate’s father, passed away last year. He was the commissioner of the city parks commission for a long time.

Coach Jeff Tedford didn’t have anything new on Jahvid Best’s injury, but did say the bruising is going down. He said Best will need another MRI once all of his bruising has disappeared, and it should give a better diagnosis. Best still is on crutches.

Tedford said he has a special focus on some of his younger guys during practice these days, as he keeps one eye on the future. He singled out wide receiver Michael Calvin and tailback Shane Vereen as guys who have stood out so far on offense. Defensively, Tedford said linebacker D.J. Holt and safety D.J. Campbell have looked good.

Jonathan Okanes

Jonathan Okanes is in his fourth year covering Cal's football team. Previously, he covered Cal's men's basketball team for four years. He can also be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/OkanesonCal.