The Bears resumed spring practice tonight at a windy Memorial Stadium. As it turns out, the break from football didn’t allow Cal to heal up from its injuries. It just created more.
The Bears were victimized by a couple of non-football injuries during the break. Before you panic, none of them involved notable players. Reserve offensive lineman T.J. Emery suffered a concussion while snowboarding while walk-on long snapper Clark Porter returned with a sprained ankle suffered from playing volleyball.
Other than that, it was all the familiar faces back on the field after the 12-day layoff. That is, except for wide receiver Marvin Jones, who tweaked a knee during the last practice and sat out today. He’s expected back soon.
It was the first practice without safety Sean Cattouse, who broke his thumb during the last practice and is out for the remainder of the spring. Reserve tight end Garry Graffort also had his arm in a sling. He broke his wrist before the break and also will miss the remainder of the spring.
There is a lot of mixing and matching of the depth chart during the spring, so it’s hard to get a gauge on who is making strides and who is falling out of favor. I can tell you how the lineup looked at the beginning of practice, which is presumably how the pecking order stands at this point in time. On offense, Kevin Riley was at quarterback, Shane Vereen was at tailback and Will Kapp was at fullback. The receivers were Jeremy Ross and Alex Lagemann (instead of Jones) with Anthony Miller at tight end. The offensive line looked like this — LT Donovan Edwards, LG Matt Summers-Gavin, C Chris Guarnero, RG Justin Cheadle and LT Mitchell Schwartz.
On defense, Cameron Jordan and Trevor Guyton were at defensive end with Kendrick Payne at nose tackle. Mike Mohamed and D.J. Holt were the inside backers with Keith Browner and Chris Little on the outside. Bryant Nnabufie and Josh Hill played corner while Chris Conte and D.J. Campbell (instead of Cattouse) played safety.
The Bears unveiled a new drill at the end of practice, introduced by new special teams coordinator Jeff Genyk. The offensive players formed a box at the 10-yard line on one side of the field while the defense did the same on the other side. Then kickers Giorgio Tavecchio and Vince D’Amato took turns attempting to kick off and land the ball inside the box. For each good landing, Tedford reduced the number of gassers the team had to run at the end of practice.
D’Amato went 4-for-4 while Tavecchio went 3-for-4, prompting a pretty positive response from teammates.
“That’s a fun drill,” Tedford said afterward. “You put a little pressure on the kickers. The team was fired up about it.”
The Bears are back at practice on Thursday evening.