Spring Practice Notes: 4-18-17

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    Photo Credit: Will Boling/RTI

    Some notes and observations from the open portion of practice on Tuesday afternoon. 

    Defensive line notes: With the team practice indoors due to wet conditions, we got a better opportunity to get an up-close look at the defensive linemen as coach Brady Hoke put them through various drills to work on their hands and their agility.

    Kahlil McKenzie, after being extremely limited earlier in camp as he comes off a pec injury that occurred during the 2016 season, is back on the field and going through drills pretty full speed. With several other upperclassmen out this spring, McKenzie appears to be taking on a leadership role – going first in most of the drills and helping coach up some of the younger defensive linemen as well.

    Deandre Johnson and Ja’Quain Blakely – a converted linebacker – are going to be a couple interesting wild cards for this group. Both have decent size and move well through drills, so it will be interesting to see if either, or both, get opportunities on the field this fall or if they’re still a year or two away.

    FUNdamentals: There wasn’t a ton of substance to report on Tuesday since most of the drills had a heavy focus on fundamentals. The offensive line worked on hand placement and leverage, the skill players worked on ball security as they ran through various obstacles with coaches and managers taking swings at them with blocking pads trying to knock the ball out, the cornerbacks worked on getting off low blocks and the safeties and the linebackers worked on their tackling technique.

    Quarterback stuff: We did get to see one period of the quarterbacks throwing, although it was primarily shorter routes such as slants and outs that made it tough to make too many judgements. In the few dozens throws we saw, most were on the money, though coach Mike Canales wasn’t pleased with the placement on a few occasions.

    Drops continue to plague the receivers and tight ends a bit. Ethan Wolf and Latrell Williams were among the players who put the ball on the ground at least once during the drill.

    My impressions of the quarterbacks haven’t changed a ton over the course of the spring. Quinten Dormady, who generally is the first one in line in a drill, does a very nice job putting the ball where it needs to be, but he doesn’t have the same zip on the ball that Jarrett Guarantano does. Saturday’s Orange and White Game should be the first time the media and the public really gets an opportunity to see where those two stand in the competition.

    And while he’s not in the competition the same way the other two are, I also thought Will McBride made some nice throws on Tuesday. He has a great opportunity to exceed his relatively low recruiting ranking.

    Here are a couple throws from practice:

    Green team: Receiver Brandon Johnson, receiver Josh Smith, defensive back Rashaan Gaulden, linebacker Elliott Berry, defensive back Evan Berry, linebacker Quart’e Sapp and safety Micah Abernathy were among the players who were spotted on the field at some point during the open sessions wearing green, non-contact uniforms.