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Notes from Northwestern practice: August 20

Observations from Northwestern's final open practice before focusing exclusively on Cal.

Stephen Lam

- Northwestern's coaching staff began installing the its first segment of the gameplan against Cal. The Golden Bears visit Evanston on Aug. 30.

- In a story that's been developing throughout the offseason, Northwestern's kicking units continued to be consistently inconsistent. Punter Chris Gradone looked pretty decent on most punts, but every so often, he'd catch one off the side of his foot and even shank one into the neighboring yards beside Northwestern's practice field. Hunter Niswander had been nursing an ankle injury as of late but kicked pretty well on Wednesday. He worked his way out to about 45 yards where he seemed fairly comfortable.

- In another developing special teams story, Ibraheim Campbell, Miles Shuler and Mike McHugh all took turns fielding punts but didn't work on returns.

Active Navy SEAL Tom Hruby, who had been listed as a defensive end, worked with the superbacks on offense today.

- Scouts from the Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers attended practice.

- The offense looked a lot more crisp Wednesday than it did Tuesday, but the defense still dominated 11-on-11 situations. The offense wasn't able to get any major plays outside a couple nice catches from Miles Shuler. Ibraheim Campbell nearly picked off a pass. Kyle Queiro got one interception and Matt Harris got two.

- Following practice, Fitzgerald shrugged off the offensive struggles. Obviously the performance isn't ideal, but he doesn't consider it to be too big of an issue.