Cal held its one and only practice of training camp at AT&T Park this afternoon, as players got familiar with the field they will call home in 2011.
After Tuesday evening’s full pad practice, the Bears were only in helmets today as it was a session more about familiarizing themselves with their surroundings. Players got used to playing on a field with infield dirt and in a configuration where a wall is very near the back of the end zone.
After practice, coach Jeff Tedford had the entire team line up and take turns jumping up against the padded wall that will be behind one of the end zones (left field in the basebal configuration). Coaches think of everything, don’t they?
“They have to know it’s padded,” Tedford said. “You have to run into it a couple times to realize that it’s soft. You can run into it. It’s no big deal.”
Playing on a field with infield dirt can affect some players more than others. It can make a big difference to kickers and holders, or punt returners who let the ball bounce on the dirt.
“You need to know what it feels like,” Tedford said. “Is it slippery? Can your cleats fit in? We’re not used to that. We’re used to practicing on our stadium field. As much as we can get that experience, the better we’re going to be”
The dirt can also substantially affect offensive and defensive linemen.
“You can’t get outside yourself,” Tedford said. “You get your base too wide, you’re going to slip. There’s no grasp to it.”
After the players were done jumping up against the wall, they all changed into a clean jersey and lined up in the center field bleachers for a team picture that will make up the team poster this season. Then punter Bryan Anger joined Comcast SportsNet anchor Jim Kozimor for a feature that will be part of the network’s Cal season-preview show. Kozimor asked Anger how many punts would it take him to get a “splash hit” if began in the infield. Anger said he could reach the water in two punts.
After a couple of mishits, Anger unloaded on two punts that went well onto the grass in right field. He then easily reached the water on his second punt of each. That ended the afternoon’s festivities, and the players headed for the bus.
A couple of injury updates: Fullback Will Kapp has a “minor sprained ankle,” according to Tedford. Kapp was in a boot. For now, the Bears are down to their third fullback, either John Tyndall or Nico Dumont.
Also, freshman tailback Darren Irvin suffered a quad contusion and was on crutches. Irvin was also injured during spring practice.
Wednesday will be one of the most significant days of training camp as the Bears play their first of two scrimmages. Tedford said he plans on playing a lot of the younger players to start getting a better sense of the depth chart.
“A lot of the starters have had most of the reps,” Tedford said. “We’re probably going to play a lot of young guys tomorrow and try to get them stratified where they may be.”