Depth at cornerback being tested early
Oregon is now six practices deep into fall camp, and some notable players were limited or ruled out of Thursday’s session on the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex fields.
Three defensive backs — starting cornerback Deommodore Lenoir, versatile nickel back Jamal Hill and speedy wide receiver turned cornerback Daewood Davis — were among the walking wounded who were not full participants.
“We’re just getting a lot of guys a lot of reps. It’s camp,” cornerbacks coach Donte Williams said when asked about the sudden lack of depth at the cornerback position on the side of the field opposite Thomas Graham. “So all these new freshmen, we just want to make sure a lot of guys are getting reps and understand what they’re doing.”
Senior Haki Woods, redshirt freshman Verone McKinley and true freshman Mykael Wright are also competing for playing time behind the starters. Sophomore Kahlef Hailassie, like Hill, is listed at safety but also capable of playing cornerback.
“We have a lot of interchangeable players,” Williams said, noting that the first, second and third teams have been getting an equal number of reps during the first week of camp.
Brenden Schooler, a first-team wide receiver before getting injured over the weekend and a proven special teams standout during his career, watched Thursday’s practice on his medical scooter three days after undergoing foot surgery. The senior is expected to be out for about eight weeks.
Junior tight end Cam McCormick, freshman wide receiver Lance Wilhoite and sophomore defensive tackle Popo Aumavae were limited Thursday.
Defensive tackle Gary Baker, a key rotation player, and reserve offensive linemen Justin Johnson and Sam Poutasi wore red non-contact jerseys.
On the field, the wide receiver competition continues to be a focal points for the Ducks, who must replace Dillon Mitchell and now Schooler.
Freshman Mycah Pittman, who was still running with the second team, continued to make spectacular one-handed grabs look routine. Penn State transfer Juwan Johnson, a 6-foot-4 senior, looked unstoppable in the red zone during drill work. Johnny Johnson ran over a would-be tackler in another drill during the portion of practice open to the media.
Darrian Felix took his turn lining up behind Justin Herbert with the No. 1 offense. The redshirt sophomore is finally healthy enough to push 2018 breakout running backs CJ Verdell and Travis Dye.