Today was one of the most significant practices so far of training camp. Today was the first “live” practice, meaning it was as close to a scrimmage as Cal gets. The team went through a series of game-like situations, complete with an officiating crew and the coaches on the sidelines with headsets.
Of course, I didn’t get to see most of the practice. The first 20 minutes were the usual drills that go on during a normal practice. By the time the final 10 minutes came around, it was time for the field goal kickers to get in some work in pressure situations.
Unfortunately for the Bears, none of the kickers had much success attempting field goals from different distances. The kickers had a lot at stake — the prospects of running gassers hinged on some made field goals. Most of them were missed. Then it was double or nothing, and most of them were missed again. The result was an extended time doing gassers at the end of practice, and making the placekickers the least popular guys on the team.
In addition to the injured players, Cal held some of its veterans out of practice to allow younger players to get a look. Players like Mike Mohamed, Mychal Kendricks and Mavin Jones didn’t participate.
For coach Jeff Tedford, the biggest thing for the first live practice is leaving the players on the field by themselves. During most practices, the coaches are on the field helping to direct traffic and go over mistakes. Wednesday was more like a game. When things came up, the players had to deal with them.
Tedford said he was happy with how his players handled things — especially the younger players. Obviously, guys like Kevin Riley have been through this many times before so there’s no concern how they will handle being out there by themselves. Tedford said the mistakes were minimal among the younger players.
“For the most part, I thought it was pretty clean,” Tedford said. “Not too many penalties, no turnovers — it was good.”
Tedford was especially happy with how his new receivers — Keenan Allen, Kaelin Clay, Coleman Edmond and Tevin Carter — handled things.
“I thought they did a real nice job today,” Tedford said. “The mental mistakes were at a minimum. That’s what you look for right now. We feel pretty good about their ability to make plays. But when you’re that young and you have the whole offense being installed, it can be easy to get confused.”
Other notes from Wednesday:
- Tedford said Kendricks and Keith Browner have earned the starting jobs at outside linebacker.
- Tedford said Giorgio Tavecchio is the clear leader to handle kickoffs. Field goal duties are still up in the air.
- It now appears running back Shane Vereen may not fully return to practice until next week. Tedford said Vereen will do more tomorrow, but also added that he hopes “he’s full go by next Monday so he gets two full weeks of football” before the season-opener.