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April 14, 2010

4/13 notes: Special teams work on display

The following is a look at some of the sights and sounds from Tuesday's spring football practice at Arizona State, which was full of new positioned skilled drills that are worth mentioning.

  • The most noticeably different thing in practice today was the disarray of players on the offensive line. Offensive linemen Matt Hustad, Adam Tello and Zach Schlink occupied the three available conditioning bikes, Tello with his right knee in a brace -- Schlink with his left knee wrapped. Due to their absence on the field, junior college transfer Chris De Armas took first team in drills at right guard. Brice Schwab was moved from left tackle to right tackle in first team drills while Evan Finkenberg was practicing at the left tackle. Patrick Jamison, who was originally positioned first at right tackle on the depth chart, was practicing with the second team in drills. It will be interesting to see where many of these players will end up on the depth chart at the start of the season.

  • "You've got to see it off his toe," was a primary purpose of Bryce Erickson's new drill consisted of punt edge rushing. The interesting part to see was George Bell and other receivers and running backs mixed into blocking the punt. "Get your hands and pick it off his toe," Erickson said while players attempted to run up and block the punt. The players were practicing the precision and timing needed to block a punt and the strategic ways of blocking the ball off the kicker's toe. Vontaze Burfict decided to help out with his "kicking expertise" and assist the blockers in the drill. However, his innate athleticism at the linebacker position is not shown in his punting abilities.

  • Steve Broussard has a few new drills up his sleeve that could be a boost on special teams. A new punt cover drill was practiced Tuesday, which had the purpose of getting guys to release downfield quickly and lined up properly . This was a drill to basically have the players aligned as redundant layers of defense during the punt. "Make sure the ball is kicked then you open up and run up field," Brussard said, as the players traveled down the field lined up one after another.

  • After failing in his first attempt as punter, Burfict decided to give it another go later in the session. In an 11-on-11 segment, a ball was tipped and he dived for it, with the ball seemingly touching the ground before he could get his fingers underneath it. Not particularly concerned, Burfict stood up and punted the ball in celebration of his maybe interception. Following the play, Burfict asked Omar Bolden if it was really a catch, to which Bolden responded, "I thought it was, but I was gonna bluff like it was regardless and let the refs decide."

  • On a 48-yard field goal attempt, Thomas Weber decided he'd rather lay down. Well actually, Weber slipped on his approach to the football, missed it entirely and wound up on his backside. There wasn't too much laughter, after all, everyone seems to know Weber is a pretty accomplished kicker when healthy. But on the sidelines after, he got a little ribbing from strength and conditioning coaches, other special teams performers and maybe even a reporter or two.


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