By Jonathan Okanes
Friday, April 18th, 2008 at 9:47 pm in off-season stuff.
First of all, thanks to all for all of your well-wishes. Now, back to business:
The Bears went a little shorter than usual Friday because they have a morning practice on Saturday. Most of their practice focused on fundamentals and going through plays, with only a brief session of 11-on-11 near the end of the session.
Some formerly injured players – linebackers Zack Follett and Michael Mohamed and running back Shane Vereen were back practicing almost in full form. But Cal also has lost wide receiver Jeremy Ross for a while with a sprained ankle suffered during last Saturday’s spring scrimmage. Fellow wide receiver Drew Glover, who missed a handful of practices after starting the spring off strongly, is back practicing in yellow.
Spring practice hasn’t provided Cal coach Jeff Tedford with many answers with regard to the wide receivers. Some of that is because of the injuries, while much of that is also inexperience. Michael Calvin and Nyan Boateng, arguably the Bears’ most talented receivers, haven’t really stood out. But each is still getting his feet wet learning the system. Calvin was on the scout team last year so he’s essentially just getting started getting comfortable with the Bears’ playbook. Tedford lauded the progress of Ross on Friday before suffering his injury.
It’s becoming more and more evident that Cal seems set on switching its base defense to a 3-4 system. The company line continues to be that the Bears always have had some 3-4 in their package, but they have used it exclusively in the spring. And after asking defensive coordinator Bob Gregory about it Friday, he didn’t exactly go out of his way to deny it. Gregory basically smiled and pointed out that it’s all they’ve practiced this spring. You make your own interpretation.
The Bears have done a lot of tinkering with different combinations this spring, but one thing that has remained pretty constant is the No. 1 defensive line of Rulon Davis and Tyson Alualu on the outside with Mika Kane in the middle. By the fall, you can expect Davis to start at one end with Alualu and Cameron Jordan vying for time on the other side. Also, while Kane is the starting nose tackle right now, Derrick Hill is the future in the middle. He started the spring running with the second team after coming off knee surgery and has remained there.
While Mohamed is back from a hamstring injury, he didn’t participate with the first team during 11-on-11s. So Eddie Young joined Follett, Worrell Williams and Anthony Felder on that unit. Syd’Quan Thompson and Chris Conte were the first team corners, Marcus Ezeff was the rover and Gary Doxy was at free safety. Bernard Hicks ran with the second team and snuffed out a middle screen play with a big hit.
Speaking of Follett, the man with the ever-changing hair, has added a new wrinkle to his fashion statements atop his head — he shaved it all off. Follett was approaching the mountain man look with long hair and a growing beard. He assured me this wouldn’t be the look he goes with during next season.
Richard Fisher continues to get the first team reps at left guard. Mark Boskovich started the spring there but it appears for now that Fisher has passed him up. The rest of the No. 1 offensive line continues to feature Mike Tepper at left tackle, Alex Mack at center, Noris Malele at right guard and Chet Teofilo at right tackle.
Tight end Tad Smith dropped a couple of passes Friday, something I can’t remember him doing so far this spring.