August 4, 2008

First fall session in the books

The Oregon Ducks completed their first session of the 2008 fall camp following a media briefing by Coach Mike Bellotti. The temperatures soared during the early session for the veterans, promising a warm welcome for the newcomers in the afternoon.

As with the start of all seasons, Coach Bellotti addressed the media prior to the first practice session of fall camp. The Oregon head man spoke for about thirty minutes following very brief opening remarks. The highlights from his comments were:

- While Costa is on the top of the QB depth chart, the chart will change daily for awhile. Roper is "going to have a say in this thing"

- Hamani Stevens will move to defensive tackle to address team needs. Though Stevens likes offensive line best, moving to defense in this circumstance was his own decision

- Wide receiver Blake Cantu will greyshirt this season following a shoulder injury

- Junior college defensive tackle Justin Thompson is still expected to arrive sometime during fall camp

- Junior college wide receiver transfer Tyrell Irvin was cleared for admissions this morning and has been added to the roster

- Jaison Williams worked this off-season with vision specialists at NIKE and improved his visual acuity 14% (which seems good). Coach Bellotti expects this will improve Williams ability to track the ball into his hands

- NaDerris Ward has filed with the NCAA for 2008 eligibility but Coach does not know a timetable for their decision

- Based upon input from Jim Radcliffe, Bellotti said LeGarrette Blount had the best performance on the team during off-season training

- Kenny Rowe is currently on the defensive line, although he may also play linebacker this season

- Kenjon Barner had not reported yet, but was expected to join the team this afternoon

- Coach Bellotti is pleased to have three weeks to prepare for Jake Locker and the University of Washington instead of three days due to the game being moved up

Following the coaches' remarks, practice began on the grass practice fields. As always to start camps, players were not in full pads. About 150 onlookers watched as the veterans started the early session and the temperatures started to climb.

Intensity was as high as could be expected without pads on the first day of camp. As is natural as the team gathers again, getting used to going through drills and the pace of practice was the primary objective. The mood of the team was generally upbeat although it seemed a little more business-like than perhaps in years past.

Without the defense being able to tackle it's always difficult to assess the offense and the defense against each other. Of the two quarterbacks at the veteran session, Justin Roper probably had the better day in terms of overall accuracy. The two units squared off 11-on-11 for about ten minutes and the offense executed surprisingly well.

Nick Reed looks a little leaner than last year although his muscle mass appears to have increased. That could be a deadly combination for defensive tackles considering they already had trouble containing him.

The newcomers will practice at 4:30 to complete the first day of fall camp.

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