Today was Cal’s first practice in full pads, and as is always the concern, there were some injuries to report.
The most significant one looks like a knee injury to projected starting fullback Eric Stevens, whose knee gave out as he planted on the turf and he crumbled to the field. He was attended to by trainers on the field for several minutes before being helped off. He later went for X-Rays.
Coach Jeff Tedford said Stevens told him it wasn’t sore later, but it was unstable. Based on Stevens’ reaction, it seems the best fans can hope for is a sprain rather than more significant ligament damage.
Offensive lineman Alex Crosthwaite popped up after a play clutching his shoulder and immediately was taken to the sidelines later. It looked like a possible separation or dislocation based on his reaction, but was diagnosed with a less severe stinger.
Tedford made starting running back shut it down about midway thorugh practice after big knots had formed on each of his calves, apparently from cramps. Tedford said Sofele came down with cramps a couple days earlier just “kidding around” returning punts, and knotted up pretty bad that time as well.
Wide receiver Jackson Bouza, who has been catching everything, broke his finger Tuesday and will have surgery. Cornerback Steve Williams has a cut on his hand that required stitches. He was held out of team drills.
That’s it for the medical report.
Freshman linebacker Chris McCain continues to be the star of camp. On the play in which Stevens was injured, McCain batted a ball into the air, lunged for it and intercepted it himself. He also batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage and on another play zoomed around right tackle Matt Summers-Gavin to apply pass pressure.
McCain is 6-foot-6 and possesses some impressive athleticism, the kind of guy that would probably make Mike Montgomery stand up and take notice. He was in taking reps with the first team after one play Wednesday, and it looks like there is no way the coaching staff will be able to keep him off the field.
“He’s avery good player — long, rangy, good leverage,” Tedford said. “He’s doing a good job.”
Tedford wasn’t overly thrilled with the team today, although there were some good things. In addition to McCain, defensive back Josh Hill, quarterback Brock Mansion and running back Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson each had strong moments. The offensive line also had some strong moments in pass protection, despite being down to their third string left tackle in Bill Tyndall.
But Tedford said the team didn’t play as fast as he would have liked, likely because of the soreness from the first four days of camp.
“We have to come out and have a better day tomorrow,” Tedford said. “Right now, we’re a little stiff, a little sore.”
One other positive for the offense was its work in the red zone near the end of practice. DeBoskie-Johnson, who has looked good early in camp, ran hard for a short touchdown run, busting through an attempted tackle by Mychal Kendricks. DeBoskie-Johnson is running with a purpose this camp.
Quarterback Zach Maynard also connected with his half-brother, Keenan Allen, for a short TD, displayng nice touch and timing for the score
(One note: Although Maynard and Allen are technically half-brothers, they consider themselves full brothers. They grew up in the same house and refer to each other as “brother.”)
Also, Mansion ran for a short touchdown and threw a short pass to freshman wide receiver Maurice Harris for another score. Harris is Maynard and Allen’s cousin
Some more notes:
- Tedford and the defensive coaches have a tough task ahead of them deciding which of their freshman are going to play. Newcomers such as McCain and fellow linebacker Cecil Whiteside, defensive backs Stefan McClure and Avery Walls and defensive linemen Viliama Moala and Mustafa Jalil have all been showing up so far during this camp. Tedford said the coaching staff is going to hold a meeting Sunday to talk about personnel and discuss which freshman have positioned themselves to play this season. “We’ll have some tough decisions to make,” Tedford said. “We’re going to sit down and go guy-by-guy, see what they do, how they fit into special teams.”
- Freshman tailback Brendan Bigelow took only two reps during team drills as the coaching staff continues to ease him into action. Bigelow, a supreme talent but coming off two knee injuries, is slowly coming around after not having played football since the 2009 season. “He’s getting more comfortable every day,” Tedford said. “He was really timid in the beginning. He hasn’t played in two years. Every day, he’s making a few more cuts, playing a little faster. He did a couple of things today that looked like him. We know that he’s a special player. He’s trying to figure out what he’s doing.”
- Although Mitchell Schwartz is Cal’s best and most experienced lineman, Tedford is still eager to get him his work in during camp. Schwartz hasn’t practiced in full yet because of a hamstring injury. “He’s experienced and he’s good, but he’s not that good to just not practice,” Tedford said. “He needs to practice.”
- Tedford said Schwartz will stay at left tackle and Summers-Gavin will stay at right tackle despite that starting quarterback Zach Maynard is left-handed. That means Summers-Gavin will be protecting Maynard’s blind side.
- Freshman linebacker Jason Gibson was wearing a boot on his left leg one day after suffering a high ankle sprain.
- Quarterback Allan Bridgford missed most of practice to take a final exam for summer school.
- Running back Dasarte Yarnway had a couple of nice runs, albeit against the second and third defense.
- Marvin Jones, Keenan Allen, Coleman Edmond and Mike Manuel each took turns at returning punts.
The Bears hold another full pad practice Thursday.