By Jonathan Okanes
Wednesday, March 12th, 2008 at 10:41 am in off-season stuff.
In addtion to pro day, Cal held its press conference with Jeff Tedford to preview the beginning of spring practice. Here are some of the highlights:
–Running back James Montgomery, who is recovering from minor knee surgery, might be limited during the first week of spring practice. But the Bears then take 10 days off because of spring break, and Tedford said Montgomery should be 100 percent when the team returns to the field afterward.
–Projected starting defensive lineman also had minor knee surgery and will be limited throughout the spring. Tedford stressed that it wasn’t anything serious.
–I will have much more on the quarterback situation in an upcoming story, but one revealing comment is that Nate Longshore will enter the spring taking the first team reps. That doesn’t mean Longshore is the favorite or the frontrunner, but it makes sense if the competition is truly even to begin the spring, the guy who is a returning two-year starter begin with the first team.
–Tedford has continually said that Brock Mansion also will be part of the quarterback competition, but admitted Tuesday that his lack of experience likely puts him behind Longshore and Kevin Riley. But you can tell Tedford is very high on Mansion’s potential — as he should be. Mansion is as talented as any quarterback in the program. Tedford said he still believes Mansion will push Longshore and Riley simply based on his talent alone. “As he gets better and better with the mental part of the game, then he definitely would be in the mix,” Tedford said.
–Tedford said running back Tracey Slocum has come a long way, both physically and emotionally. With Montgomery and Jahvid Best backing up Justin Forsett last season, Slocum became somewhat of a forgotten man. Tedford hinted after the season that Slocum has to get in better shape, and he apparently is doing so. Spring practice could provide Slocum an excellent opportunity to get into the running back conversation, since Montgomery will be limited and Best is out while he continues to recover from his hip injury.
–Former defensive lineman Tad Smith has moved to tight end, and Tedford seems intrigued by his potential there. “He gives us that physical presence,” Tedford said. “He’s a guy who’s very tough at the line of scrimmage. He’s shown it as a defensive lineman. He’s athletic and catches the ball, and he’s physical. I’m really anxious to see what he can do because I think he’ll bring some of that physical part of the game that we could always depend on from Craig (Stevens).” Cameron Morrah is the projected starter at tight end, but his backup is anybody’s guess. Skylar Curran is listed No. 2 on the depth chart.
–Tedford said he thought Stevens was the Bears MVP last season. “Craig has been kind of an unsung hero around here,” Tedford said. “He’s kind of a guy that nobody ever noticed.” Tedford said out of all of Cal’s pro prospects, Stevens has the best chance of being a surprise in the NFL. Stevens did very well at last month’s NFL combine. “I think his toughness is going to take him a long way.”