By Jonathan Okanes
Saturday, August 29th, 2009 at 9:45 pm in Mid-week.
You get the feeling Jeff Tedford isn’t a big fan of depth charts. Us media types get ahold of them and then pepper him with questions, while Tedford would rather not talk in terms of everything being set in stone.
That contrast came up today when we asked about the kicking situation. The depth chart released today lists Giorgio Tavecchio as the kicker. No surprise there; it seemed as though the incumbent was holding on to his job. But Tedford went out of his way to say that Tavecchio is listed as the kicker only because media relations rep Kyle McRae had been badgering him to release a depth chart soon.
“As of right now, Tavecchio would be the guy,” Tedford said. “But just because (McRae) forces me to put a depth chart together, doesn’t mean that’s what is going to happen next Saturday. We could change the kicker on Wednesday. That hasn’t been decided yet.”
Tavecchio confirmed he hasn’t been told anything about Saturday’s game at this point, and continues to take a diplomatic approach about the competition between him, David Seawright and Vince D’Amato.
“I have 100 percent faith and i believe in Coach Tedford’s judgment,” Tavecchio said. “I feel like I’m giving the best effort I can. I’m very happy and satisfied with the way I have performed so far. Of course, there is always room to improve. I hope I’m the kicker. If not, I’ll be the best teammate possible.”
Considering Tedford reserved the right to buck the depth chart, it’s pretty significant that he reiterated that wide receiver Verran Tucker will indeed start against Maryland. He definitively said Tucker and Marvin Jones are the starters, while it could be a number of guys when three receivers are needed.
Tucker’s ascenion back to the top of the depth chart after missing spring practice is a nice story, and you can read about it here.
Tucker didn’t know he had been named a starter until a group of reporters informed him after practice.
“I’ve come a long way,” he said. “I had to get my academics situated. I’m feeling good. I feel like I have my legs under me. Camp was great. I’m ready for Saturday. I can’t wait to step on the field.”
Tucker had an uphill climb after falling to the bottom of the depth chart when fall began. He said the coaching staff never gave up on him.
“The coaches talked to me every practice, giving me motivation, telling me I had to work to get my spot back,” he said. “They just kept me motivated.”
While the Bears practiced during the spring, Tucker studied in the coaches office. Then he would join the team at the end of practice for conditioning. But he didn’t stop when his teammates stopped. While the rest of the Bears were headed for the locker room, Tucker did extensive extra running with either Tedford or receivers coach Kevin Daft, sometimes to the point of vomiting.
“It just showed me that i have to get my life together,” Tucker said.
–Tedford said wide receiver Michael Calvin, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Aug. 17 as a clean-up procedure, has returned to practice and should be available for the opener.
–There was an estimated 5,000 fans at Fan Appreciation Day on a toasty day at Memorial Stadium. No surprise: the longest autograph lines were for Tedford and Jahvid Best.
–Speaking of Best, he returned to practice without limitations after missing Thursday with an appointment. Best had his usual explosiveness during the portion of practice we were able to watch.
–The Bears will hold a late practice tomorrow, finishing up around 9 p.m. They originally were supposed to have Sunday off and practice Monday, but decided to swap days. Now it will be like a normal game week, with Monday off and getting back on the field on Tuesday.