March 21, 2007

Insider Report: Pads come on for the first time

Let the hitting begin - practice summary (By Gene Williams,

For the first time this spring, the players were dressed with shoulder pads on under their jerseys. That meant hitting above the waist was allowed and it didn't take long for the players to take full advantage of their new gear. For most of the afternoon, the cracking of pad on pad and helmet on helmet could be heard reverberating from the practice field.

"We got shoulder pads and helmets on today and got a little contact," head coach Bobby Bowden said. "We had some pretty good contact drills. The kids got after it pretty good. They looked like they hustled pretty good. The intensity was a little bit better but I guess that was because they had the pads on."

Perhaps the biggest hit of the day came from an unlikely source. During drills, walk-on safety Roosevelt Lawson zeroed in on running back Antone Smith and knocked him backwards drawing cheers from his defensive teammates.

Although Lawson's hit might have draw the loudest response, Myron Rolle probably made the biggest impact for the defense on Wednesday. The freshman safety had two big hits during 11-on-11 drills and forced a fumble.

"It feels real good to be back in the pads," Rolle said. "It was physical with our pads off, now we have a license to hit people. It was a very good practice today. Very tough."

In addition to Rolle and Lawson, defensive ends Everette Brown and Neefy Moffett recorded tackles for loss and cornerback Jamie Robinson had a big tackle at the line of scrimmage. Offensively, Antone Smith had two long runs on the day, including one where he broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage. Quarterback Drew Weatherford connected with tight end Charlie Graham for a long gainer after he broke a tackle attempt. Running back Marcus Sims also turned in a nice run.

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