Mississippi State hit the practice field for the final time in front of the media Sunday afternoon with a closed practice to the public in the friendly confines of the Palmeiro Center for the second practice in a row.
After two-straight days of split-squad practices, the Bulldogs were all together again Sunday and went through work in semi-full pads. The team was dressed in shoulder pads and a girdle that was somewhat padded.
The team went through a good 2 hours and 20 minutes worth of reps and got good work from both offensive and defensive sides of the ball. The first teams stayed the same for the most part with the exception of junior P.J. Jones spending time rehabbing while wearing a protective boot on the left foot. In his place was Curtis Virges who worked well with the first team line.
Joining Jones for the whole morning was right tackle Damien Robinson who's yet to practice after a meniscus problem from earlier in the summer. Robinson seems to be coming along however and should be back soon.
Freshman wide out Fred Ross started in the pit after injuring a hamstring in the first practice, but he went back with the wide receivers shortly while staying out of scrimmaging.
True freshman wide out Shelby Christy and redshirt Fred Brown both were red jerseys for non-contact, but Christy ran through drills with no problems and looked solid. Brown is recovering from a wrist injury and has been playing through it with one hand.
Speaking of the wide receivers, for the most part, they had another solid day and continue to impress coaches and media alike with the talent of the roster. A lot is still yet to be seen as the receivers haven't gotten into the meat of the playbook yet, but it was another positive step for the offense.
"There are a lot of young talented players out there right now and the things that we tell them are to continue to work on the technique and continue to work on the skill," Mullen said of his freshmen wide receivers. "The talent is there, but they still have to focus on developing that skill."
Mullen has been excited about this group of receivers coming in and it shows on the field. Freshman De'Runnya Wilson continued to improve and, with Ross being out with an injury, has quickly become the guy to watch from the newcomers. He and Christy made big strides this week and have some people thinking it's possible to see one of them on the field this year.
"I think as a receiving group we're getting better," junior receiver Jameon Lewis said. "We have a lot of young guys so it's all about continuing to learn and taking steps to becoming better players."
Lewis is a player that has brought it every day of camp and has been doing that in each of his first four years on campus. In the past, he's had to learn from Chad Bumphis but now Lewis takes the reigns as a leader on the squad on and off the field.
"I was led by some good players and I've been here for awhile so it's easy for me now," said Lewis. "Now I'm just trying to help the younger group because I know the playbook inside and out."
While leading by example, Lewis has made some great catches in practice and has shown the ability to always seem to be open. But now the freshman are developing the same ability as Wilson and B.J. Hammond found catching the ball over smaller corners quite easy as just about any pass thrown their way was engulfed for a catch.
"Those boys are good," Lewis said confidently. "De'Runnya (Wilson) and B.J. (Hammond) are big physical receivers. They know how to take the ball out of the air and make a play, so they're going to be good."
Other big receivers like Joe Morrow continued to improve and made big plays on the day and JUCO wide out Jeremey Chappelle looked the part of a starter this week. As a whole, the receivers group is as talented as it has been, now Mullen looks to get the players acquainted to the offense a larger task at hand.
"I like the attitude of the team, and there's a lot of guys in roles that they haven't been in before," Mullen said. "To compete in the SEC you have to have depth."
Defensively things became interchangeable with a lot of mixing and matching in coverage. Players were scattered at cornerback with the starters with the combo of Taveze Calhoun and Jamerson Love running together to start things off.
The same can be said for the linebackers with Ferlando Bohanna being used in a package with Benardrick McKinney and Matt Wells. As a matter of fact, Bohanna was sent in coverage by Geoff Collins to cover Lewis, one of the quickest players on the team. As Tyler Russell sent a deep ball to the endzone, Bohanna was there stride for stride with Lewis and knocked the ball away. It was the top defensive play of the game.
Offensive and defensive lines were fairly quiet again today and will pick up more as the weeks go by and the team begins full-go scrimmaging. Now begins the two-period of work at the "Farm" on the south side of campus. All practices are closed to public and media alike and we will talk to Mullen and a select group of players beginning Tuesday evening.
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