SEATTLE – The Huskies held their first practice of fall camp late Friday afternoon, a 2-hour, 15-minute workout on the east practice field adjacent to Husky Stadium.
The players were in helmets, jerseys and shorts – no pads – for a relatively light workout. They did have a half-dozen up-tempo team periods, which produced some notable highlights – mostly (surprise, surprise) from the defensive secondary.
News, notes and observations:
Look who’s back … back … back
Chico McClatcher and Quinton Pounds were back running routes.
Greg Gaines was back in the middle of the defensive line.
Jordan Miller was backpedaling again.
Trey Adams was back in uniform, as were DJ Beavers and Brandon Wellington.
The Huskies, finally, are whole again. Or something close to whole, anyway.
Those players who were struck with season-ending injuries in 2017 made their anticipated return to the field. Just being out there in a jersey, running through drills, that was enough at least for Miller on Day 1.
“I’ve been waiting for this for eight months, man,” said Miller, a senior cornerback who returns after breaking his left ankle last October. “Since I got carried off at Arizona State, I was like, ‘OK, just get working, get going.’ I’ve been waiting for this day and I feel good today and it’s been worth the wait.”
Gaines, UW’s standout senior nose tackle, was limited over the final month of the 2017 regular season after tearing the posterior cruciate ligament in his knee. He then tweaked his knee midway through spring ball in April and missed the rest of spring practices.
“I’m feeling great,” Gaines said. “Everything’s good with me. I’m 100 percent ready to go. … It took me a couple weeks to get over (the spring injury), and I was good. It was little strain in my MCL. I recovered quick.”
Adams, UW’s 6-foot-8, 316-pound star left tackle, ran through some drills with the rest of the offensive, but he was held out of team periods as coaches ease him back into things. The same was mostly true for Beavers and Wellington, the two inside linebackers coming off various injuries.
There is one key player who remains sidelined, but sophomore Hunter Bryant – wearing a large brace over his surgically repaired left knee – spent the majority of practice catching balls out of the JUGS machine. For a guy two months removed from knee surgery, he seemed to be moving well.
Byron vs. Browning
This should be a fun back and forth all camp: Senior QB Jake Browning wasn’t shying away from star cornerback Byron Murphy. And Murphy wasn’t backing down.
Murphy broke up the first pass Browning threw his direction during an 11-on-11 team period, a long throw near the right sideline that Murphy batted down.
Later, during a 7-on-7 period, Murphy picked off Browning’s first pass in the middle of the field. Browning, to his credit, came back with consecutive 48-yard touchdown passes – long passes to each side of the field – to Aaron Fuller and Alex Cook (beating sophomore Keith Taylor in coverage both times).
In one of the last 11-on-11 periods, Browning beat Murphy with a pass to junior WR Andre Baccellia on a slant route, gaining about 8 yards.
Murphy enjoys the back and forth with the Huskies’ senior QB.
“I definitely want to be challenged,” Murphy said. “He’s only going to make me better. I know Jake is going to make plays. I’ve just got to make sure my technique is there and get to the spot, because I know Jake is going to put the ball on the money. I actually like when he throws to my side. It’s a good challenge for me, and it’s going to make the receiver better, (Browning’s) timing better, all that.”
Sophomore wide receiver Jordan Chin had the play of the day when he made a sensational diving catch, fully extended, near the goal line off a 50-yard throw from redshirt freshman Jake Haener. Chin beat freshman CB Julius Irvin on the play.
Chin, 6-foot and 171 pounds, was one of the team’s breakout players in the spring. He’s right in the thick of it in an open wide-receiver competition.
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