Here we are again, patrolling the sideline as the Washington Huskies conduct their first official team practices of the 2017 calendar year.
Yes, spring football is upon us.
Day 1 for the Huskies looked the same as most Day 1s for the Huskies under coach Chris Petersen -- a lot of basic, fundamental instruction with players wearing helmets and jerseys and shorts and socks and shoes, and not a lot of actual plays in an 11-in-11 setting. Here is what I saw on a somewhat chilly Monday morning on Montlake:
--- OK, let’s get the Jake Browning stuff out of the way. The junior quarterback didn’t take any snaps during the 11-on-11 portion of practice, didn’t throw the ball during any drills and only did some light throwing on the side during warmups as he recovers from offseason surgery to repair an injury to his right shoulder. During one passing drill that involved three quarterbacks dropping back and throwing the ball at once, Browning stepped in and took his drop-back, but held onto the ball when the others released. And during every other drill, he stood behind the action, observing without ever throwing the ball.
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So fourth-year junior K.J. Carta-Samuels and redshirt freshman Daniel Bridge-Gadd split the majority of the reps (Tony Rodriguez wasn’t at practice). Petersen said afterward that it’s a “long spring,” and coaches and trainers have “a very specific plan” for what they will do with Browning.
“It’ll be a gradual buildup,” Petersen said. “He’ll do more than he did today.”
--- For what it’s worth, the first-team defense featured, in the defensive backfield: Byron Murphy and Jordan Miller at cornerback (with Austin Joyner limited by injury), and a nickel look with Taylor Rapp, Jojo McIntosh and Ezekiel Turner on the field together.
At linebacker: Tevis Bartlett, Azeem Victor, Keishawn Bierria and Benning Potoa’e.
And on the defensive line: Vita Vea and Jaylen Johnson (Greg Gaines is out with an injury).
--- The first-team offensive line looked as expected, from left to right: Trey Adams, Andrew Kirkland, Coleman Shelton, Nick Harris, Kaleb McGary. And the second team: Jared Hilbers, Henry Roberts, Matt James, Jesse Sosebee, Devin Burleson.
--- The best throw of the day was probably a toss by Carta-Samuels to senior receiver Dante Pettis, who beat newly converted defensive back Jomon Dotson deep up the right sideline. Carta-Samuels also made a nice throw up the right sideline late in practice, but the ball slid off the fingertips of third-year sophomore receiver Andre Baccellia.
--- The highlights of the final 11-on-11 period were both defensive: a strip sack by ... someone (I think it was third-year sophomore defensive lineman Ricky McCoy, but didn’t have a great angle) of Bridge-Gadd that led to a Bryce Sterk fumble recovery, then a sack by third-year sophomore defensive lineman John Clark on which he grabbed Carta-Samuels with one arm and wound up throwing him to the ground.
--- Bridge-Gadd had a couple of nice scrambles to avoid pressure and gain yardage.
--- Sterk’s fumble recovery was the only turnover of the day.
Some personnel stuff:
--- Fifth-year senior linebacker Azeem Victor, who sustained a season-ending leg injury in November, was a full participant and looks fine.
--- Fourth-year junior nose tackle Greg Gaines watched practice from the sideline with his left arm in a sling. Fifth-year senior outside linebacker Connor O’Brien is still out with a knee injury. Third-year sophomore tight end Michael Neal is out with a left leg injury. Third-year sophomore cornerback Austin Joyner and third-year sophomore linebacker DJ Beavers were also limited.
--- Fifth-year senior running back Lavon Coleman and fourth-year junior cornerback Brandon Lewis attended but did not suit up or participate. Fifth-year senior quarterback Tony Rodriguez was absent.
--- Ty Jones, the touted receiver from Provo, Utah, is the only 2017 signee who is already enrolled and participating in practice. Jones, who is wearing No. 20, is listed at 6-foot-4 and 206 pounds, and he looks every bit of it. Two other scholarship newcomers participated: freshman tight end Jacob Kizer, who signed in 2016, grayshirted and then enrolled in January; and junior-college punter Joel Whitford.
--- The Huskies practice again Wednesday morning.