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March 23, 2009

Practice Report: March 23

Notre Dame went inside for the spring's third practice, also the first in full pads. The extra gear revealed more about who's up for contact and who's not. Watched the offense for most of the opening 20 minutes and saw Trevor Robinson, Taylor Dever and George West standing by without full pads. Frank Verducci should come in for interviews after practice today and can perhaps shed light on the freshman guard's status.

A Golden Tate sighting as expected. Charlie Weis said last week that Tate should be with the football team for Monday workouts, plus the Blue-Gold Game. While there's no doubt about Notre Dame's two best wide outs, today's first round of reps went to Michael Floyd, Robby Parris and Duval Kamara (still with his elbow brace).

Missing Tate for most of spring ball might be a bad thing for Notre Dame's offense, but it's a blessing for the younger receivers, including Deion Walker. I spoke with Walker over the weekend and will have a story up on him shortly. He's excited for the extra work sans Tate. "It helps me at least because I can get those reps," Walker said. "He's pretty much solidified himself."

That sonic boom heard inside the Guglielmino Center came from the tight ends running bag drills. Going to have to ask Kyle Rudolph about the intensity of those whacks as Rudolph, Mike Ragone and Joseph Fauria went at it. After last year's bare bones depth chart at year's end, Notre Dame again has an impressive collection of talent at the position. Rudolph figures to be the starter, but if Ragone is healthy that makes a two receiver, two tight end, one back set awfully hard to defend.

A recruiting sighting from DeSmet High School in St. Louis as quarterback Steve Kaiser and defensive end Kenneth McClendon watched practice. DeSmet produced current defensive tackle Paddy Mullen as well as former running back/defensive back/whoosh Munir Prince (nod to those that get the reference).

Watching Robert Hughes go through footwork drills, it's difficult to figure out how he didn't take a big step forward last season. While there were limited carries to go around, the sophomore continues to look light on his feet in practice, showing agility closer to Armando Allen than James Aldridge. It will be interesting to see what coach Tony Alford can do with Hughes this spring.

Very impressed by the strength Braxston Cave added in the past year. Not that he was ever a lightweight on the Irish line, but he looks like he's been in the Notre Dame weight program for two or three years, not just one. The Irish don't split time at center very often for obvious reasons, but Cave looks physically ready to play. At a minimum, the Irish have the makings of a trusty backup for Dan Wenger.

Some extensive ink on the right arm of Steve Paskorz. Don't remember spotting that last season. Could be an interesting story behind that later this spring.

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