August 5, 2006

Camp opens: Special free practice report

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The Tigers opened the fall camp slate on the practice fields behind the Tom Taylor building (which we will be touring on Monday). The afternoon practices will take place on the grass fields to alleviate some heat concerns. Morning workouts will be at Faurot.

*First things first: Brad Ekwerekwu, Mike Cook, David Overstreet and Dedrick Harrington were elected captains by their peers prior to camp opening.

"That's great," Ek said. "It's a humbling experience. I love my guys and it's something I've been working for for a while."

*Two of the captains were limited in practice. Overstreet wore a red pullover as a leftover from a knee problem he had after spring ball. Ekwerekwu was held out of practice. He had his appendix taken out 19 days ago.

"My core is still tender, it's still bruised and sore," he said. "As far as a twisting action, I'm very limited. From what I heard from the doctors and training staff, I should be back to almost fully healed around the first week of the season."

*With Ek out, Jason Ray stepped in and took snaps as a first team receiver. The most comical thing was watching Chase Coffman having to practice with the second-team offense. Best backup in the league right there.

*In other injury news, Marcus Woods had his left ankle heavily wrapped and wore a red pullover. Woods, who has battled injuries throughout his career, is day-to-day with a strained left Achilles' tendon.

*One more health update: Incoming freshman linebacker Marquis Booker was on crutches at practice. He broke his left kneecap earlier this week.

*The only players not at the workout were not surprises. Justin Brown did not make it academically and Tremane Vaughns will now be a January enrollee after finishing up some course work at Pasadena City College.

*Prize recruit Jeremy Maclin was not in attendance. Don't panic. Gary Pinkel said Maclin just got out of the hospital and he fully intends to enroll at Missouri.

*Some notes from the eyeball test we took: J.P. Tillman is one big dude. I know it's been said before, but he looks like he could play linebacker tomorrow.

As far as players that look like they had good summers conditioning, we noticed these guys: Mack Breed, Tommy Saunders, Martin Rucker, Jaron Baston and Evander Hood. Seriously, Rucker just stands out. If you watched Missouri during stretch drills and said, pick out the one sure-fire NFL player without knowing a thing about them, Rucker is the guy you'd pick.

*Speaking of people who had good summers, Daniel looks to be in much better shape than he was in spring ball. And offensive coordinator Dave Christensen looked like he'd dropped about 40 pounds.

*Early in drills Darnell Terrell went up to catch a pass. Mike Anderson might want to sign this guy up. Dude can jump.

*Some personnel notes: Steven Blair and Josh Barbo were working as the deep snappers. Chase Daniel, Chase Patton and Brandon Coleman were the holders, though Ekwerekwu will figure in here when healthy. Woods, Saunders, Cornelius Brown and Trenile Washington were the four working as punt returners. La'Roderick Thomas is starting out as a defensive back.

*Even prior to Woods getting hurt, Tony Temple was lined up first during stretching drills. That generally indicates he is atop the depth chart. Now with Woods banged up, Temple is going to get a few days to put a stranglehold on the job.

*The most famous number in recent Missouri history now belongs to a freshman defensive back from Texas. Kevin Rutland has inherited Brad Smith's 16. We'll have a lot more on the freshmen over the next few days.

*Speaking of newcomers, our early pick to play is Denario Alexander. Talk about passing the eyebally test. This kid really looks the part.

*By the way, the newest Tiger was on campus. Charles Gaines was wearing No. 91 and working at defensive tackle.

*There is no doubt this is Daniel's team. Everyone except Daniel is treating him as the starting quarterback.

"It's still a quarterback race, you all got to understand that," Daniel said after practice. "It's still a quarterback race and that's why we're all coming out here each and every day to try and get better. It's not over, I'm telling you."

Politicking aside, yes it is. Daniel has taken over as a leader on this team. Early in drills, he missed William Franklin on a wide receiver screen. As Franklin indicated the ball was behind him, Daniel shouted, "Will, let's get up and do it again. Let's go again." Franklin listened.

Daniel also poked some fun at Rucker after the big tight end dropped a pass. The quarterback doubled over in laughter and pointed at the pre-season all-Big 12 star.

"I know who responds to what kind of criticism that needs to be handed out, whether it be getting in their face and saying, 'Do this or do that,' or whether it's slapping you on the butt and say, 'Let's go again,'" Daniel said. "There's a fine line between that and the great leaders, whoever it may be, can really tell the fine line between that and I think I'm pretty good at it."

*Daniel would have had the play of the day, if not for what you'll read below. He dropped back and lofted a ball about 40 yards down the right sideline. Ray made a nice mid-air adjustment and hauled in the pass over his outside shoulder. Daniel gave a Tiger Woods-like fist pump as the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma product made the grab inside the sideline.

*Play of the Day: Oddly, it didn't come from a player. During a drill where three receivers routes and one quarterback hits each of them, Coleman was throwing about a 20-yard patter. Whether he lost his receiver or simply got a little confused, the second-stringer threw one right at tight ends coach Bruce Walker. Walker made a nice catch for the INT.

*Player of the Day: It's gotta be Daniel. You won't read much about the quarterback race this month because there isn't one. One of our fall camp questions was whether Chase Daniel had made this his team. He has. Daniel's parents were in town, taking advantage of mom's job as a flight attendant, to watch the workout.

Stay tuned for photo galleries from the opening workout and stay logged on over the next month as PowerMizzou.com provides complete coverage of camp.

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