Amid an early sunrise and cold morning dew on a Friday spring morning, the Huskies were back at football practice as coach Chris Petersen was all over the field barking instructions.
I filled in for TNT UW beat reporter Christian Caple and had a few notes and observations from the two-hour workout.
Here’s our leadoff question:
WHAT DID JAKE BROWNING DO?
Same ol, same ol. He’s still limited as he eases his way back after the surgery to repair his shoulder. He was in for a few 11-on-11 snaps, but only to hand the ball off to a running back.
Offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith said they are going to continue to take it easy on Browning and bring him back slowly.
"He’s very involved – he’s taking mental reps out there and the reps he can take he takes," Smith said. "First and foremost is getting that thing exactly where we want it."
PLAY OF THE DAY
Myles Bryant, a sophomore walk-on from Los Angeles, stepped in front of a pass from Tony Rodriguez in the early 11-on-11 session and returned the interception about 60 or so yards for the first defensive touchdown of the spring. He capped the TD with his best attempt at a cartwheel into the end zone.
Bryant played sparingly in 11 of 14 games last season and had broke up a pass in the Pac-12 championship game against Colorado.
And he’s been making an impression.
"He led us in interceptions in training camp in 2016," UW defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake said. "He had an unbelievable practice on Wednesday indoor and then today had another big-time practice. He’s a smart player, has a chip on his shoulder, is tough, quick, extremely smart – there were a couple routes our offense put in and he was covering them like Budda (Baker) was last year, already."
Byron Murphy also had an interception later off a deflection by Keishawn Bierria.
THROW OF THE DAY
Despite the early pick, Rodriguez, a fifth-year senior, bounced back later with a dime ball. He lofted a streak down the left sideline in stride to Quinten Pounds that went for about a 30-yard touchdown. Rodriguez then met Pounds in the end zone for a celebratory slap hands. K.J. Carta-Samuels also had a nice long completion to Kamari Pleasant.
Some other notes …
—— Myles Gaskin took a shot from Ezekiel Turner in an 11-on-11 drill. He caught a pass across the middle before Turner met him – then helped him Gaskin up and got a pat to the back of his helmet from the junior.
"He woke up practice today with that big smack," Lake said.
Lake said he’s expecting more of that with the "bash brothers" Turner, and junior JoJo McIntosh. Taylor Rapp and Trevor Walker are also returners at safety.
"They are going to let you know that you better be careful," Lake said. "They woke everybody up today.
"Zeke is an athletic guy. He was our special teams player of the year last year. He’s really upped his mental game. He can direct the defense. He knows where everybody is going. I think you are going to see that a lot. He’s going to play like a senior this year."
—— Redshirt freshman running back Sean McGrew had another day of some nice cuts out of the backfield. He doesn’t appear so daunting with his 5-foot-7, 177-pound frame but the 2015 Gatorade California player of the year at St. John Bosco, along with Pleasant, are hoping to compete for carries with Gaskin and Lavon Coleman. It did not appear as if Coleman participated on Friday.
"Kamari and Sean – we feel good about both of those guys," Smith said. "They’ll get some opportunities this spring to show what they can do."
—— Lakes graduate Benning Potoa’e almost had an interception in the early 11-on-11 session, tipping a pass from Carta-Samuels. He continued to get reps with the first-team defense.
—— The first-team offensive line remained unchanged from the first two practices under new offensive line coach Scott Huff. From left to right: Trey Adams, Andrew Kirkland, Coleman Shelton, Nick Harris and Kaleb McGary. Though it looked like Matt James might have mixed in a first-team rep or two.
—— Incoming freshman tight end Hunter Bryant of Eastside Catholic was in attendance, roaming the sidelines with a hoodie and – in true Northwest fashion – wearing sandals and orange socks. He would walk and talk around the field with redshirt sophomore tight end Michael Neal, who is in a walking boot, most of the practice.
—— Smith spoke afterward about what he’s seen from freshman Ty Jones – a four-star wide receiver from Provo, Utah – so far. Jones is the only incoming freshmen currently participating in spring practices.
"Things are moving fast for Ty," Smith said, chuckling. "But he’s done some good things. He’s made some plays. He would probably tellyou the same – he’s not really certain of what’s going on all the time, which is expected. But you can see his talent here and there."
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