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August 7, 2007

Free practice report: Reserves step up

This is just a sample of the type of coverage you will get every day throughout camp. Click here to start your free PowerMizzou.com trial

The Tigers held their final workout before going to full pads on Wednesday. Mizzou practice for about two-and-a-half hours on the Kadlec practice fields on Tuesday morning. Obviously, the big news out of practice came in the form of injuries to two projected starters.

But since we have already covered that, we will move on to the rest of the news from Tuesday's workout:

*On the injury front again, Michael Keck was back without a red pullover and practicing at full strength.

*Prior to the practice injuries, I was wondering if there were any starting spots open. Hardy Ricks had looked very good and somewhat solidified his spot. Adam Crossett seems to be taking charge at punter. I don't think the backups can challenge seriously at defensive end. Health notwithstanding, there are not too many question marks.

*Paul Simpson has really been looking good. Even before the injury to Ricks, he was taking some snaps with the first team. Even on a play where he got burned by Jared Perry, Simpson recovered to swat the ball away, causing a fumble the defense recovered.

*Speaking of receivers fumbling, Jeremy Maclin coughed one up right around the goal line that was reminiscent of the Texas A&M game.

*I did think of the one spot where there could be an opening: the third wide receiver. Maclin, Perry and Danario Alexander will battle it out and I don't have a clue who will win. Every practice counts for every one of these guys. All had moments where they struggled on Tuesday.

*One of those moments came when Maclin (one of the biggest talkers on the team it seems) was jawing at the defense. Andy Hill screamed: "Quit talking. Start doing it and quit talking about it!"

*Carl Gettis made an athletic knockdown of a pass. I really, really think he is a guy that could be like Alexander last year, who comes out of nowhere to earn playing time. He is already near the head of the defensive back line in conditioning runs and he just really has jumped out at me. If Ricks is out for any significant amount of time (or Terrell), I think Gettis could earn a spot.

*The Tigers worked on kickoff returns for the first time today. Before he was injured, Temple was working as the main return man and Gary Pinkel said the Tigers intend to use him there. Working in behind him were Earl Goldsmith, Tremane Vaughns, Kevin Rutland and Maclin.

Temple returned kickoffs two years ago and was one of the best in the nation. Pinkel stressed the need to have a dynamic playmaker returning kickoffs because there wouldn't be many touchbacks this year (hope to have a longer story on this later this week).

I also asked him about the difference in kicking off. He did acknowledge the possibility of having a "bloop kick" where you force the opposition to fair catch the ball.

*On the first team kick return unit, it appeared Tommy Saunders and Jimmy Jackson were the secondary deep men flanking Temple. Among the blockers were John Ruth, Jaysen Corbett, Connell Davis, Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman.

*Most of the kickoffs were landing about the ten or 12-yard line. Jeff Wolfert kicked just one, but he put it inside the five. I was speaking with Crossett's dad on the first day of practice and he told me that Wolfert did a lot of work to improve his leg strength in the off-season.

*Following the injury to Temple, Jackson and Marcus Woods split duties as the first-team tailbacks. Woods had a couple of touchdown runs, plus a long burst on the play right after Temple went down. Best case scenario is to have Temple soon, but I still think Woods has a good comeback year in him. Marcus declined to speak with the media after practice.

Play of the Day: What else? The season outlook was put on hold at least momentarily while Temple lay on the ground clutching his left leg. It is possible it could turn out to be the biggest play of the entire camp.

Quote of the Day: "It was kind of scary. You saw the reaction of everybody was like, 'Oh, man.' We need Temple. Without him, the offense is a little hurt." --Sean Weatherspoon on his reaction when Temple went down.

Mizzou will return to the practice field at 7:15 on Wednesday morning.

This is just a sample of the type of coverage you will get every day throughout camp. Click here to start your free PowerMizzou.com trial


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