MOBILE, Ala. — The North and South teams each wore full pads on Wednesday for the first time at the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
The added equipment allowed an escalation of physicality, particularly on goal-line plays by the North and in 1-on-1 drills by the South.
Here are three observations from the second day of practices:
1) The injury bug even strikes here too
The North roster did not experience any injuries on Tuesday that caused players to miss Wednesday’s practice, but the South was struck by multiple injuries.
Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage announced during the South’s stretch period that five players were not participating.
Three offensive linemen were among the injured, including Utah guard Isaac Asiata, San Diego State guard Nico Siragusa and Western Kentucky tackle Forrest Lamp. TCU linebacker Josh Carraway and Auburn safety Rudy Ford also were sidelined.
The injuries did lead to opportunities for other players.
Minnesota safety Damarious Travis, who is from nearby Pensacola, Florida, and Auburn tackle Robert Leff arrived in Mobile on Wednesday. Travis participated in 1-on-1 drills but did not have an opportunity to attend the pre-practice defensive meeting. He’s optimistic to do more on Thursday. Leff jumped in at right tackle.
Savage said Virginia tackle Eric Smith, Vanderbilt tackle Will Holden and Georgia Southern linebacker Ukeme Eligwe were en route and scheduled to participate in Thursday’s practice.
2) Working in the red zone
The North team, which is being coached by the Bears staff, worked a good bit on third downs and also in the red zone on Wednesday.
Pitt quarterback Nate Peterman and Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard both threw to running backs on their first respective plays in the sequence.
Peterman smoothly connected with Michigan’s De’Veon Smith on first down, and Beathard delivered to Toledo’s Kareem Hunt for nice gains in a critical part of the field.
3) 1-on-1 off autopilot
The South team, which is being coached by the Browns staff, utilized a considerable amount of 1-on-1 drills for offensive and defensive linemen, plus receivers against defensive backs, as well as running backs and tight ends against linebackers. The tight ends appeared to do fairly well in a blitz pickup drill, but linebackers seemed to far better against the running backs.
As for the linemen, a Browns coach admonished players that they were on “autopilot,” a setting he didn’t recommend, which he said in more colorful terms.
After that, the drill seemed to escalate in intensity with heavy thumping along the goal line.