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Football: Spring practice preview — wide receiver/tight ends

RETURNING STARTERS: Marvin Jones, Jeremy Ross, Anthony Miller.

WHO TO WATCH OUT FOR: Alex Lagemann

POSSIBLE SURPRISE: Michael Calvin

THE BREAKDOWN: With Charles Satchell’s move to safety, the Bears enter spring thin at wide receiver. They can afford to be a bit thin because they will welcome five new receivers this fall. In the meantime, the receiving crops needs to use the spring to improve route running and playmaking.

Jones emerged as a dependable receiver last season, but he isn’t the downfield playmaker Cal sorely lacks. Truth be told, there is no returning receiver who has proven he can make big plays, get consistent separation from defensive backs and run for yards after the catch. Until the new corps of receivers arrive, all Cal can do is look for the returners to improve in these areas.

Ross ultimately could be Cal’s biggest playmaker. He has shown the ability to reach an extra gear when running down field and get a few extra yards on a DB at the end of a long route. But he’s yet to demonstrate consistency doing that. Coach Jeff Tedford believes Ross still has untapped potential, but “he needs to prove that he can be more a part of the offense by making plays.”

Lagemann opened some eyes during the second half of the season with a handful of productive games and could use the spring to become more of a mainstay in the rotation. Lagemann had an excellent spring last year but then was injured near the beginning of training camp and it took him a while to move back up the pecking order.

Calvin is looking at his redshirt junior season with still not much to show for it. Big things were expected of him heading into 2008 but a series of injuries, mostly a torn ACL, have put his career in neutral. Calvin recently had his knee scoped again but is expected to be ready by the beginning of spring. He will need to try to block out his past injuries and simply play the way he did on the scout team in 2007, when he exhibited enormous potential.

Spring practice will simply be for determining depth at tight end, because Anthony Miller is the undisputed starter going into 2010. Miller was Cal’s third-leading receiver last season with 26 catches and could develop into one of the Pac-10’s premier tight ends. And Cal has depth behind┬áhim with Spencer Ladner and Jarrett Sparks.

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.