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Football: Richard Rodgers drops Red Vines, picks up new position in Bears’ offense

Updated

Richard Rodgers said goodbye to Red Vines and hello to a new position.

“I told him you will not play a down if you don’t (lose weight) because you’re slow and fat and out of shape and you can’t play,” Cal offensive coordinator Tony Franklin said of Rodgers. “He wants to play.”

So Rodgers, who played tight end for the Bears last season, dropped 33 pounds to find a home in an offense that doesn’t typically feature his position.

His weight loss was achieved at least partly by cutting candy from his diet.

“I have a big sweet tooth. I like Red Vines a lot,” Rodgers said. “That was my problem.”

Now healthy and trim at 245 pounds, the junior is competing for time at one of the two inside slot positions in Cal’s four-receiver alignment.

“He’s a natural,” Franklin said. “He’s born to be that — the new prototype that you see in the NFL now. The hybrid guy who doesn’t need to put a hand on the ground to get on the field because he’s just natural at what he does.”

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Football: Dykes says no QB decision is near

I talked this afternoon with coach Sonny Dykes, who said Thursday’s practice, where Jared Goff and Zach Kline got the majority of the quarterback reps, should not suggest that it’s now a two-man race for the job.

He said this was business as usual, where one or two candidates get the lion’s share of the snaps on a daily rotating basis. He said Kline is likely to get most reps with the first unit on Friday, and Austin Hinder will move into that position on Saturday.

The coaching staff then will evaluate the work of all three and begin to try to narrow the field, perhaps initially to two quarterbacks.

When I asked if he could have a starter named by Sunday, Dykes said, “I’d be surprised.”

Stay tuned. I will have more tonight, following practice.

NOTE: Beginning Monday, my Twitter handle will change from @CalBearsBang to simply @JeffFaraudo

Please take note and share the change with your friends interested in following news from Cal athletics.

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Football: Are Kline, Goff separating themselves?

It remains to be seen if this means anything, but Zach Kline and Jared Goff took a majority of the snaps at quarterback on Thursday during Cal’s fourth practice of fall camp. Austin Hinder, the third QB in the battle for the starting job, got fewer reps.

I could not attend Thursday’s practice, but here’s what coach Sonny Dykes told reporters afterward regarding the limited use of Hinder: “It’s just kind of just what we did today. We’ll evaluate it and come out with a plan tomorrow.”

Dykes liked what he saw from Kline and Goff. He said the ball is coming out more on time than it was earlier in the week, improving the timing between quarterback and receiver.

“It’s faster now, more accurate,” Dykes said. “Those guys worked incredibly hard over the summer and it shows. We’re ahead of where we were in the past.”

Likewise, starting RB Brendan Bigelow saw limited action. Just a decision to minimize wear and tear on a player who had knee surgery in the spring, Dykes said.

“Bigelow feels great. We just want to be smart,” Dykes explained.

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MLB Nick Forbes sat out practice after seeing a doctor earlier in the day about his back, which has been tightening up. Dykes said the problem has been intermittent, but he hopes Forbes is back up soon.

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Other injury updates: DE Sione Sina “tweaked” his knee, but should be back quickly; DE Chris McCain “dinged” his shoulder and should be OK, Dykes said.

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Dykes seems pleased with the progress of the team so far, but isn’t relaxing. “We’ve got to keep our foot on the accelerator.”

 

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Football: No decision close on starting QB

 No clarity still on the three-man competition for Cal’s No. 1 quarterback job.

Coach Sonny Dykes said after Wednesday’s third day of practice that Jared Goff, Zach Kline and Austin Hinder all performed well.

“I thought today was Jared’s best day,” Dykes said. “I thought Zach continued to look good — he’s gotten better and better every practice. Austin’s done some good stuff as well.”

Dykes said there has been no significant separation among the three. “Still probably a little early,” he said. “We’ll start to see one of those guys get a little bit more settled, a little bit more confident.

“You say, `How do you know when it happens?’ You don’t really. You get the sense. His teammate start to respond to it and you say, `OK, here’s the guy.’

“We’ll try to let that happen naturally, and if it doesn’t we’ll force the issue a little bit.”

Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin said all three have had good moments and bad moments through three days of practice. He expects to know more when they have to face a live pass rush in practice.

Still, he’s seen progress since spring ball ended.

“They’ve all gotten better,” Franklin said. “That’s the neat thing — they’re all better than they were in the spring and I wasn’t sure they would be. They showed me that they worked, and that’s good.”

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– With projected starting right OT Bill Tyndall still not ready to play after a broken ankle he sustained at the end of spring ball, Dykes said redshirt freshman Steven Moore has played well enough to perhaps get a shot at the vacant spot. Redshirt freshman Christian Okafor also is playing well, Dykes said.

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– Dykes said that safety Alex Logan is mostly recovered from a small fracture in his foot he sustained this summer and could start practicing next week.

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– Freshman offensive tackle J.D. Hinnant, who was involved in a car accident last November, isn’t expected to do contact drills this fall and will red-shirt, Dykes said. “We think he’s going to be a really good one. But we weren’t really counting on him (this season),” Dykes said.

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– Sophomore OLB Jalen Jefferson had one of five interceptions by the defense on Wednesday and drew praise from Dykes. “He’s just playing so fast right now,” Dykes said. “He really showed up all day long.” Cornerbacks Kam Jackson and Stefan McClure also stood out.

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– Starting left OT Freddie Tagaloa returned to practice the day after rolling his ankle on Tuesday.

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Football: Dykes OK with practice skirmishes

Coach Sonny Dykes called Day 3 of Cal’s fall camp “a good, competitive, physical practice,” adding that the offense and defense were “trading blows.”

And that wasn’t even a reference to several brief skirmishes that broke out.

“The thing is, they’re not getting out of hand,” Dykes said of the incidents. “You want guys competeting against each other. Guys might get in a shoving match, then it’s over.

“That’s football. That happens at every level.”

No problem there, Dykes said.

“I’ve been places where I was begging ‘em to fgight and nobody cared enough to fight. Nobody was competitive enough to fight,” he said. “Luckily we’re not dealing with those issues because those are much bigger issues than a couple guys shoving each other.”

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Football: Andy Buh impressed by Sina, McCain

Two days into Cal’s fall camp, defensive coordinator Andy Buh said that defensive ends Sione Sina and Chris McCain have caught his eye for their early efforts. Both sat out the spring while rehabbing injuries.

Buh on Sina: “He’s a big athletic guy. He’s 275 pounds plus, who still moves somewhat like a linebacker. We’re still transitioning him from playing up to down. There’s going to be some growing pains there, but he looks pretty good out there.”

On McCain: “We’re looking at film and he almost looks like a natural with his hand down. He did some of that in high school. There’s a lot of recall there. He’s got a lot of speed. I’m just happy that he’s out here and doing well. He’s growing up.”

Buh is getting a limited look at Brennan Scarlett, another linebacker-turned-end in the Bears’ new 4-3 alignment. Scarlett, who had hand surgery last spring, continues to wear a red jersey in practice, signifying he’s in a non-contact mode for now.

“We’re all really optimistic about the end result,” Buh said. “He’ll be an unbelievable addition once he’s back.”

Safety Alex Logan continues to be on the shelf with a foot injury that kept him out of spring ball. Buh expects him back sometime during fall camp.

Logan’s status was one reason Buh assented when linebacker Jason Gibson approached him toward the end of spring ball about moving to safety.

“Since I hadn’t seen him at linebacker — and I knew he played (safety) in high school — I was open to it because of our depth issues,” Buh said of Gibson. “He’s doing good. He plays fast — got some speed.”

Buh said players on his side of the ball have made a favorable impression through two practices.

“Obviously I’m seeing a group that’s really energized, playing really hard and enthusiastic. It looked after the first two days that they’re pretty well-conditioned,” he said. “They had a good summer, came back with a lot of recall from what we did in the spring, which was really awesome to see.

“I was just concerned to see how much they retained from what we taught ‘em in the spring. A lot of it was retained and a lot of the early mistakes we saw in the spring aren’t here right now.”

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Football: Offense and defense each have their moments on Day 2 of fall camp

Day 1 of fall camp Monday went well, coach Sonny Dykes said. Tuesday was better.

“Today was a good day. I was glad to see us come back out and match yesterday’s intensity and effort,” Dykes said. “I thought at times it was even better today.”

Dykes was pleased with how the defense performed early in practice, and said the offense “did a great job of answering” late in the workout.

“It was encouraging to see both sides have success at times today. That’s really what you’re looking for. That usually means you’ve got the makings of having a pretty good team.”

The Bears will remain in helmets through Friday before holding their first padded practice on Saturday.

– Sophomore Jason Gibson is making progress in his transition from linebacker to safety, Dykes said.

“I thought Jason Gibson did some good things at safety. It’s a new position and there’s going to be some growing pains, but he made a couple really nice breaks on the ball,” Dykes said. “It’s been real encouraging to see.”

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Football: Camporeale to start

Jeff Tedford said today that redshirt sophomore Dan Camporeale will be one of Cal’s starting outside linebackers next Saturday in the season-opener against Fresno State.

Camporeale, a walk-on, beat out senior Ryan Davis and freshman Cecil Whiteside for the job. Tedford said the team moved freshman Chris McCain to the other side to back up starter Dave Wilkerson.

“He’s very solid with assignments,” Tedford said of Camporeale. “He’s strong and can run. He’s been here for awhile. The other guys are fairly new. But it says a lot about him, about who he is and what he’s worked to become.

Camporeale started getting some reps during spring practice and continued to be steady even after McCain’s eye-opening first couple of days of camp. Davis began spring practice as the starter at that position.

“I didn’t really have any expectations going in,” Camporeale said. “I just knew if I went out there and kept trying, kept working, like I’ve been doing ever since since I’ve been here, I was going to get my opportunity.

“I felt like the opportunity was there. It was just up to me to prove myself and make sure I knew my stuff and go out there and work on my technique every day and prove that I can see some playing time this year.

“It was all based on me going out there and playing like I know I can. I know I can play at this level.”