Sunday, August 12, 2007

Training Camp - Week 1

Now that we're hot and heavy into the fall practices, I thought I would spend a little time to summarize some of the news coming out of the first week of training camp. Injuries were, unfortunately, the main story with the Bruins seeing a number of players suffering knee and foot injuries on the first few days. It only took two days to lose Raymond Carter for the year and every practice seemed to end with somebody getting carted off the field.

On a positive note, the offense started camp looking good with multiple receivers standing out and Ben Olson looking sharp and strong. That news comes as a big relief, considering how poorly the offense performed back in April. There were some up and down moments later in the week but overall it sounds like Ben and the offense are moving in the right direction. We'll have to wait and see if the improvements continue next week when the team really picks up the intensity; but so far so good.

Here is Tuesday's Practice report from DeconBlue at BruinGold, and another account after Wednesday's practice. This is Rich Perelman's entry on Thursday's practice with some quotes from coach Dorrell. Here is my very own account of Friday's practice, which was the first one in full pads. Here are some other reports from DeaconBlue and JeffIsSmilling from Bruin Gold. Jeff also has a report from Saturday's practice.

Offense

Freshman tail back Raymond Carter started off the camp with a bad case of the fumbles. After dropping the ball twice on the first day, he had to carry around the football until 11:30 that night. The second day saw him come up limping with a knee injury late in the practice. It was originally thought to be a minor injury but he hopped to the locker room and wasn't able to put much weight on his right knee. He went for an MRI and it came back with an ACL tear. Carter will have season-ending surgery and use a medical red-shirt for the 2007 season.

With Carter out of action, Ryan Carew got some more reps in practice. He had a very good spring and is the fastest player among the returning starters. So far this fall camp he has looked quick and powerful. He'll be the third back in the Bruins lineup for the season.

It was reported that Ben Olson looked very strong on the second day of practice. He made quick reads and delivered some nice passes over the middle and along the sideline. Coach Dorrell said that Olson was learning and executing the play book very well. On Friday and Saturday Ben had some very nice moments but there were also some times when the offense as a whole really struggled. It looks like this group is still feeling it's was through everything Norvell installed in the spring.

Joe Cowan looked very good during the first week as well. He has recovered from his knee injury and has no ill effects. During Tuesday's practice, Cowan ran seamless patterns over the middle, showed good hands and used his size to shield defenders. Karl Dorrell, in the Tuesday press conference, said that Joe was a "stabilizing force" for the receivers and that he has emerged as a leader.

Brandon Breazell removed his knee brace and said he felt no pain. He said his explosiveness was better, he could run faster and he thought less about his knee once he shed the brace. Terrance Austin was also looking quick and made some very nice catches during the scrimmages.

Osaar Rasshan, who made the move to receiver this spring, was also impressing onlookers. He is aggressive, runs great routes, and has some great hands. A natural athlete, Rasshan could find his way into some games this season. When I saw him I was impressed by how big he plays. He's the same height as Joe Cowan but Rasshan, with his leaping ability, just seems like a huge target.

Backup lineman Scott Glicksberg had a stomach virus and was limited in action due to the illness. Red-shirt freshmen offensive linemen Sonny Tevaga and Brandon Bennett, both reserves, have slimed down this summer. Tevaga lost 28 pounds and now weighs 323. Bennett went from 352 to 318 pounds.

In the cavalcade of injuries, Pitre hurt his knee on Friday and didn't dress for practice on Saturday. Starting lineman Shannon Tevaga hurt his shoulder and sat out practice recuperating. Backup tight end Travis Martin hurt his knee and was on crutches. He isn't expected to be back until later in the season. Chane Moline is limited because of an injury to his wrist/thumb.

Defense

Freshman defensive tackle Brian Price sat out the first few days of the camp waiting for the NCAA clearing house to give him their stamp of approval. Apparently some more paperwork needed to be filed. The rest of the defensive line was awesome during practice and absolutely shutdown the running game during scrimmages.

Shawn Oatis, who had a huge spring, went down with a knee injury on Thursday. His MRI came back negative and he was back on the field the next day.

Rodney Van injured his left foot on Monday and was walking around in a boot. The initial reports were that the injury was not serious and the boot was used as a precautionary measure. His MRI came back negative and he is expected to be back in action in the second week of camp. On Friday he was limiting his action to not put too much stress on his leg.

Chris Horton pulled a hamstring and sat out practice on the second day. The injury wasn't serious and he returned to practice later in the week.

By all accounts Alteraun Verner was having a huge training camp, making a lot of great plays. Michael Norris also looked good and the Bruin's backup defensive backs will add some very talented and experienced depth to this unit.

Special Teams

After a rough spring, it looks like Kai Forbath has settled down and had a great first week of camp. He hit his field goals and was very consistent. It sounds like Forbath might only be used for field goals and extra points this season. Walk-on Jimmy Rotstein is being considered for kick-off duties.