Aug. 17, 2009
The Florida State football team welcomed the return of a handful of nicked up players for Monday's 2 ½-hour practice.
Working out in shells (helmets and shoulder pads), the Seminoles spent the first half of the practice working with their specific position segments, before focusing on team work of the 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 variety.
Thomas and Pryor, who had been getting the bulk of the snaps, were rejoined by tailbacks Tavares Pressley and Ty Jones. Pressley and Jones, had missed several days of work tending to tender hamstrings. Tailback Chris Thompson (ankle sprain) also returned to the practice field, but was limited to straight-line work.
"That's scary," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said of rash of minor injuries that depleted the running back corps. "If you get down to one, it's hard to scrimmage. (Pryor) has really picked up the slack."
Freshman defensive end Brandon Jenkins leaped into the air to intercept a pass while rushing walk-on quarterback Ryan Becker. Displaying outstanding focus and body control, wide receiver Rod Owens hauled in a pass from Christian Ponder that was initially deflected by Ochuko Jenije. Owens stumbled out of bounds just short of the goal line. Pryor had three carries for 20 yards to lead the second unit.
Practice concluded with the first- and second-teams locking up in a 1-minute drill. Sacked by Alexander and Watson early in the series, Ponder caught a break when Richard Goodman came down with a Hail Mary pass that the secondary deflected, but failed to knock to the ground. The reception set up freshman Dustin Hopkins' 42-yard field goal.
Second-team quarterback EJ Manuel and wide receiver Taiwan Easterling worked their magic in a 49-yard drive, culminating with James Esco's 39-yard field goal. Manuel completed five consecutive passes in the drive, managing the clock with precision.
Hopkins and Esco continued their preseason-long competition for the kicking duties, that has been relatively tight. Monday's clutch kicks came after Hopkins converted all four of his live field goals - the last two from 42 yards - in Saturday evening's special teams scrimmage. Esco was 3-of-4 on his field goal attempts.
"So far they've each done good," said Bowden, who praised Hopkins' distance on kickoffs.