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Northwestern preseason practice notes: Tuesday, August 20

EVANSTON, Ill. -- One week before “game week,” Northwestern is winding down the intensity of its workouts. Talking to reporters after practice Tuesday, coach Pat Fitzgerald said he thought his team was ready to “get off their legs a little big and get ready to go for game week here pretty soon.”

There are a few position battles left to resolve, but Wednesday’s workout should feature a rough approximation of the week 1 depth chart, as Fitzgerald said he plans “to go one and twos and kind of show them how that works and how some guys will have some roles that way.”

With just 11 days remaining before the Wildcats kick off their season under the lights in Berkeley, the lingering position battles are nearing their end. The depth chart is hardening into a defined hierarchy – or, as defined as Fitzgerald, a notorious user of the “or” designation, will allow.

Here are some more notes from Tuesday’s workout:


-- Arm strength has never been an issue for Trevor Siemian. It’s his throwing accuracy that drew criticism last season, and on Tuesday, he looked sharp, splitting gaps in coverage with tight spirals, leading targets into open space away from defenders, hitting receivers in stride and looking every bit the composed pocket-passing complement Northwestern needs in its two quarterback system. Since the end of last season, Siemian appears to have maintained his arm strength while improving the precision of his passes.

-- One player not getting enough love for his spring and fall camp efforts is sophomore receiver Pierre Youngblood-Ary. He made his presence felt Tuesday with several tough catches, exploded out of his cuts and ran crisp routes. It’s difficult to say how much Youngblood-Ary will play this season – Northwestern has a deep receiving core – but he will play a big role in the Wildcats’ passing efforts before his eligibility runs out, if not immediately this season.

-- While Tyler Scott has secured one defensive end spot, the other is an open competition, and sophomore Dean Lowry left a strong impression Tuesday. At 6-6, 265 pounds, Lowry can stand up to most opposing tackles, but still manages to get great leverage and drive the opposition into the backfield. He is strong, quick and a natural playmaker. I’d be surprised if he’s not starting next Saturday.

-- There were a couple of injuries during Tuesday's controlled scrimmage near the end of practice. Junior defensive tackle Sean McEvily limped to the sidelines after appearing to hurt one of his feet, while junior running back Treyvon Green was left prone on the field, trainers flexing his right foot and and teammates huddling around the scene during a short pause in play, after a physical sequence. Neither injury appeared to be serious.

-- In case you’ve never been to a Northwestern practice before, you should know: senior wide receiver Rashad Lawrence can dance. Whenever he’s not participating in a drill or receiving instruction from coaches, you can find Lawrence twisting his hips, bobbing his head or otherwise bouncing around rhythmically in some other jubilant fashion. Dude gets down. I'll do my best to obtain video evidence.