When Matt Summers-Gavin took reps at left guard and Mitchell Schwartz played left tackle on Saturday’s first day of practice, I figured it was just one of what would be many different combinations Cal would experiment with during training camp. Summers-Gavin played exclusively at left tackle in the spring and is listed as the starting left tackle on the training camp depth chart.
So the news that Summers-Gavin will only miss two weeks with a bone bruise in his knee was just one of two significant developments Monday. When Summers-Gavin comes back – he suffered the injury Sunday – he will continue to play left guard.
Summers-Gavin was Cal’s starter at left guard last season, so the fact that he’s once again slotted to play there isn’t that notable. But since Summers-Gavin looked like the heir apparent to Mike Tepper at left tackle in the spring, it seemed as though he was destined to play there this season.
But Cal is keeping him at left guard for a couple of reasons. Tedford likes the idea of putting Schwartz and Summers-Gavin – his two best offensive linemen – together on the same side of the line. And the emergence of senior Donovan Edwards in the spring gives the Bears another tackle, allowing Cal to keep Summers-Gavin at guard.
So the Bears are approaching training camp with the idea that Edwards will start at right tackle, allowing Schwartz to move back to left tackle – he started there in 2008 – and keeping Summers-Gavin at left guard.
“We’re trying to get our best combination up there,” Tedford said. “Matt has proven he can play really well inside and Mitch is a good player out there. And Donovan has come a long way. Donovan coming along like he did is a positive for us.”
The injury news on Summers-Gavin couldn’t have been better for the Bears. The fact that Summers-Gavin finished practice Sunday on crutches and in a knee brace didn’t bode well.
“It’s great news,” Tedford said. “When we looked at it on tape, we were a little afraid it would be worse than that. Anytime you see something like that, you hold your breath.”
Other news today: Tedford said freshman Keenan Allen won’t take any reps on defense during training camp. Tedford had said he’d like to use Allen primarily as a wide receiver but use him as a nickel defensive back as well. But it’s becoming more and more apparent that Allen figures to be a big part of the offense as a true freshman, and Tedford wants to get him completely up to speed before he moves over to the other side.
“Keenan won’t see any reps on defense through camp,” Tedford said. “Keenan has enough to handle right now. He’s going to be a main player on offense. Right now, we need to have him focus on learning one side of the ball. As he gets really comfortable with that, then he can see what else he can do.”
Today was the first of two practices during training camp that are completely open to the media. It was also the team’s first day in shells (helmets and shoulder pads). It was heavy on drills, as there were just two 11-on-11 sessions. A few observations:
- Freshman wide receiver Kaelin Clay had a catch-and-run for a long touchdown, but it actually came on a mistimed pass from Allan Bridgford. The timing through off two defensive backs, and Clay hauled it down, split the defenders and raced untouched to the end zone.
- Freshman quarterback Austin Hinder has quick feet. He gets out of the pocket quickly when he needs to throw on the run.
- Brian Schwenke and Justin Cheadle are sharing reps at right guard. Cheadle was the starter there last season, but Tedford said that position is competitive.
- Clay has taken Jahvid Best’s No. 4, and while he isn’t as fast, he has looked good through the first three days.
- Tailback Shane Vereen continues to rest a tight hamstring. He hasn’t practiced yet. Fullback Will Kapp also is still out with a concussion.
- Inside linebacker D.J. Holt sat out with a tweaked hamstring. Robert Mullins took his reps.
- Steve Williams has begun camp taking first team reps at cornerback opposite Bryant Nnabufie. “We feel pretty good about the guys at the corners. There are some guys there who have played and have some experience. Steve has really stepped up. He had a great spring. So far, he’s kind of taken over from where he left off in the spring.”