The football Tigers have off today, as Fall Camp is now closed. Practice resumes on Thursday, as the team will begin officially preparing for its opener against Appalachian State. What will change at practice to mark the difference between "camp" and "game preparation"? I have no idea but I'm sure the answer to that would be fascinating.
As Fall Camp closes, we are fortunate to have apparently avoided any serious injuries to this point. Serious injuries to key players have weakened Auburn, Georgia, and Florida. While we have avoided any serious injuries, minor injuries have kept some key players out of practice for short or even extended periods of time. Starters Brett Helms, Charles Alexander, Darry Beckwith, and Kirston Pittman have all missed at least some time, and Helms and Alexander have hardly practiced at all. The two quarterbacks Hatch and Lee have also missed a little time, as has backup offensive lineman Josh Dworaczyk and backup linebacker Jacob Cutrera. The good news is that Helms and Alexander, two key players for this team that we can ill-afford to lose, appear to be on the verge of returning, and Helms in particular probably would have been on the field had they been playing real games.
Les Miles finally gave us an indication of who the punt returner might be this year. When asked if Patrick Peterson might be the answer at punt returner, I confessed to KBME in Houston that I really had no idea. Well, Miles gave us a hint yesterday:
Miles said punt returners included Chad Jones, Patrick Peterson and Trindon Holliday.
I guess we have our answer. He is at least being looked at.
It seems to me that this team recruited John Williams and Ron Brooks at least in part to be return specialists. While Miles comments as reported do not say that others aren't being considered, it is curious they are not mentioned.
As good of an athlete as Chad Jones is, he really didn't show any promise as a punt returner last year. He did not look like he was comfortable with the ball in his hands. He did not seem to have that quick first move that punt returners need. Last and certainly not least, he had a couple of fumbles we were lucky to recover. I hope Miles just leaves Jones at defensive back or some "rover" position and lets someone else handle the punt returns.
In more personal news, I participated in what will ultimately become a couple of podcasts earlier this week. One was for College Football Weekly, which judging by its website is rather poorly named, and the other was for the Bama blog Roll Bama Roll. Neither has been posted. Hopefully both will go up in the next few days. Both were a lot of fun.
In a final rambling thought, the Olympics have been a godsend to me. Nothing has made the last week and a half go by faster than some good old fashioned Olympics. It has gotten my mind off of football to a small extent and has allowed this last little agonizing stretch of the offseason to pass just that much more quickly. Special thanks go to the Women's Beach Volleyball competition, which has been especially distracting.
In our second final thought of the post, all is right with the world because the Yankees are 11 games out of first place in their division. I figure they have to go 25-12 in their remaining games to have a realistic shot at the playoffs, and even then they'd be only 20 games over .500, while Boston is already 20 games over .500, and Minnesota is 17 games over. Even if they finish the season on that torrid pace, they'd have to hope Boston finishes weakly and Minnesota does not get any kind of hot. I check the scores just about every day, because I am obsessed with Yankee hate.