By Jonathan Okanes
Saturday, April 5th, 2008 at 9:07 am in off-season stuff.
The Bears held their first spring practice in shells Friday — helmets and shoulder pads — which meant they hit each other for the first time. You could tell it was something the players were looking forward to because it was a very lively practice.
The defense had a good day as the offense struggled to move the ball. One player who stood out was defensive end Rulon Davis, who played with his usual enthusiasm and passion.
Defensive end Cameron Jordan looks like he could be a real force next season. Already blessed with rare athleticism, Jordan looks as though he’s put on a great deal of muscle since the end of the season. He no longer looks like an undersized defensive end, and the extra weight doesn’t seem to have affected his athleticism. When lineman run sprints at the end of practice, he still blows the competition away.
Freshman running back Covaughn DeBoskie didn’t practice much because he’s recovering from a bladder infection. Jahvid Best continued to do almost strictly individual drills, and he participated in punt return drills as well.
Neither Nate Longshore or Kevin Riley separated himself. Riley was intercepted once during one-on-one drills while Longshore was picked off by linebacker Zack Follett, but it came on a pass that went off the hands of the open receiver, who should have caught it.
Speaking of Follett, he was wearing a yellow jersey Friday, meaning minimal contact. Coach Jeff Tedford said the team is going to have Follett in yellow a couple times a week to help protect his neck, which he has had problems with the past few years. Follett missed two games last season with a neck stinger.
Tight end Tad Smith, who is being converted from the defensive line, continues to impress. After making a one-handed catch Wednesday, he made another nice catch Friday then bounced off a potential tackler and kept running. It drew a spirited reaction from his teammates.
Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory continues to rotate his players. He guys like Charles Amadi and Jesse Brooks taking some first team reps in the secondary, while starting cornerback Syd’Quan Thompson took mimimal reps.
Defensive lineman Tyson Alualu had an especially good day during one-on-one drills with offensive lineman, consistently beating his man and getting kudos from defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi.
Cal practiced in front of several high school and junior college coaches, who were on hand for a clinic the Bears’ coaching staff puts on. The schedule called for a dinner after practice, classes in the morning and then more observation at practice today.
One other note: At next Saturday’s Cal Day, where practice will be open to the public, there will be a surplus sale outside Memorial Stadium where Cal paraphernalia will be on sale for reportedly bargain prices. It begins at 9 a.m.