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Posted on Fri, Aug 14, 2009 : 10:55 a.m.

Michigan football practice observations: Players happy to be in pads

By Michael Rothstein

Good morning to you. As the Big Ten Network descended on Ann Arbor last night and this morning for its Michigan preview show, the media horde was allowed in to watch the first five periods (and a bit extra) of the Wolverines' first practice in pads Friday morning.

Players probably liked the morning practice better as it wasn't too hot outside. Here are some things I saw:

  • Players seemed pretty amped up about being in pads for the first time. Three notable exclusions to the hitting bonanza: Running back Brandon Minor and wide receiver Greg Mathews were wearing green "limited contact" jerseys. Freshman cornerback J.T. Turner was out there, too, but not in pads yet due to the NCAA's no-pad rule the first few days of practice. Two other unidentified players (players in red and green don't have jersey numbers) were wearing red "no contact" jerseys and spent the media portion of the practice on the bikes.
  • Speaking of jerseys, all the quarterbacks wore white, meaning they are live.
  • What appeared to be the first-team offense: QB - Tate Forcier; RB - Brandon Minor; TE - Kevin Koger; WR - Martavious Odoms, Junior Hemingway and LaTerryal Savoy. OL, from LT to RT: Mark Ortmann, Steve Schilling, David Molk, David Moosman and Mark Huyge.
  • What appeared to be the second-team offense: QB - Nick Sheridan; RB - Kevin Grady and Michael Shaw; WR - Darryl Stonum and James Rogers; TE - Martell Webb; OL: Taylor Lewan, Elliott Mealer, Adam Barker, John Ferrara, Patrick Omameh.
  • While looking around during stretching, I saw what I thought I'd never see again - a really, really short defensive lineman. Stretching and warming up among the masses on the defensive line was No. 62, otherwise known as sophomore Dominique Ware, who stands at 5-foot-7, 248 pounds. He didn't do much of anything, but it really stood out amongst the 6-foot-4 trees.
  • NFL scouts in attendance: Detroit Lions (including Robert Porcher), Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.
  • Also in attendance, the family of kicker Jason Olesnavage.
  • As you'll learn throughout our practice observations, I've got a pretty large hankering for mentioning music (If you've followed my Tweeting at @mikerothstein, you've discovered that today). Here's what at least part of the Michigan playlist was Friday: "We're Not Gonna Take It," by Twisted Sister; "Tootsee Roll," by 69 Boyz; "Ice Cream Paint Job," by Dorrough Music; what I believe to be "Swing," by Savage and there was something that sounded like the first track off the old "Jock Jams" CD (and yes, I'm saying CD because that's what it was) with a Michael Buffer 'Let's Get Ready To Rumble,' yell followed by the hand-movement portion of Queen's epic "We Will Rock You."

  • Working on punt returns were Greg Mathews, Donovan Warren, Martavious Odoms and Terrence Robinson.
  • Quarterback/running back combos during a handoff drill: Denard Robinson/Vincent Smith; Nick Sheridan/Michael Shaw; Tate Forcier/Kevin Grady; Nader Furrha/Fitzgerald Toussaint.
  • For another drill, quarterback/halfback/tight end combinations: Denard Robinson/Vincent Smith/Jon Bills; Nick Sheridan/Brandon Minor/Kevin Grady; David Cone/Michael Cox/Jonny Childers; Tate Forcier/Michael Shaw/John McColgan.
  • For notes on the M-Drill, check out partner-in-crime Dave Birkett's practice observations.
  • While everyone else was watching the M-Drill, I spied J.T. Turner - he of the recently eligible variety - working with a trainer on footwork, specifically backpedaling as he spent the first day of practice on the sidelines. Here's guessing he'll be in pads by Monday. One thing that stood about Turner was his height. He's 6-foot-2, but he looks a lot longer than that with his arms. I could have sworn, pre looking at the roster, that he might have been 6-foot-4.
  • During the M-Drill, wide receiver Darryl Stonum appeared to be injured, but it looked like the trainers were working on a potential cramp in his left leg. I'll be sure to ask Rich Rodriguez about that in an hour or so.
  • One thing overheard during the M-Drill said by defensive coordinator Greg Robinson: "88 (Craig Roh), get your ass in there" going against an offensive lineman.
  • As the media was leaving, Tate Forcier threw an out route to Greg Mathews that Mathews couldn't hold on to. As he lost it, he screamed at himself in disgust. Just a note, though, that Forcier throws a pretty nice, crisp ball for a freshman.
  • Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan basketball for If you have a question for a future Mailbag or want to reach him, you can contact him at or twitter @mikerothstein.


    Dave Birkett

    Sat, Aug 15, 2009 : 3:26 a.m.

    Carlos Brown said today he's as healthy as he's been in a while. He's still No. 2 on the depth chart and, as long as he stays healthy, should get his fair share of carries.


    Fri, Aug 14, 2009 : 8:45 p.m.

    tomhagen, I was wondering the exact same thing...what happened to Carlos Brown? I didn't see any mention of him in this entire article and would be shocked if Grady had surpassed him on the depth chart. Is he injured?


    Fri, Aug 14, 2009 : 6:13 p.m.

    I went to CC and we played St.Martin Deppores and #62 Dominique ware was the startind Nose Guard. He has one big heart for his and can play, He was All state player for Inkster


    Fri, Aug 14, 2009 : 5:40 p.m.

    Did Carlos Brown practice today? and if so...he is not in the top 2 groups??

    Michael Rothstein

    Fri, Aug 14, 2009 : 2:01 p.m.

    Tx, Yeah, I kind of got a kick out of it. You think Rodriguez was trying to send a message? Hmmm..... I'm really rooting for different musical selections each practice.


    Fri, Aug 14, 2009 : 1:21 p.m.

    I like the pairing of Robinson and Smith.


    Fri, Aug 14, 2009 : 1 p.m.

    a twisted sister insert - I'm sorry Rothstein "we're not going to take it"...that is unless your referring to MSU as the twisted sister. thanks for the inside practice observations


    Fri, Aug 14, 2009 : 11:41 a.m.

    I hope Denard Robinson quickly surpasses Sheridan on the depth chart. I realize Sheridan has game experience, but I honestly have more faith in Nader Furrha than him.