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Northwestern Wildcats football practice notes, August 23: Wide receiver rotation, injury updates and 11-on-11 work

We saw the starters back in action.

Zach Pereles

Northwestern held open-to-the-media practice Tuesday morning on Hutcheson Field. After only seeing two starters in the scrimmage at Kenosha, it was a much different atmosphere on the lakeside. Here are the highlights from a pretty lively practice.

  • Scouts from both the Tennessee Titans and Chicago Bears were in attendance.
  • Defensive tackles C.J. Robbins and Jordan Thompson, running backs Jesse Brown, Jeremy Larkin, and Auston Anderson, wide receiver Jelani Roberts and offensive linemen Ian Park and Shane Mertz did not participate in practice. Larkin and Brown, both true freshmen, are almost certainly going to redshirt. Anderson missing practice, however, is concerning. He also missed the Kenosha scrimmage.
  • The team spent a lot of time early practice working on special teams. Matt Harris, Flynn Nagel, Austin Carr, Macan Wilson and Riley Lees all got reps catching live punts from Hunter Niswander.
  • One-on-one action between defensive backs was a mixed bag, but the defense, in general, came out in front. Offensive highlights were Marcus McShepard beating Alonzo Mayo, Andrew Scanlan beating Roderick Campbell and Solomon Vault beating Jared McGee. The wide receivers ran a variety of routes. Harris especially stood out for the defense, and Montre Hartage had some ups and downs.
  • The starting five on the offensive line was, from left to right, Blake Hance, Connor Mahoney, Brad North, Tommy Doles and Eric Olson. Doles was filling in at guard—a position we haven’t seen him at much—for Mertz and generally looked solid.
  • With Thompson and Robbins out, Fred Wyatt and Greg Kuhar got a lot of reps in the middle of the defense.
  • As we’ve seen throughout camp, the wide receivers continue to rotate a ton. Scanlan, Carr, Nagel, McShepard, Vault and Charlie Fessler got a lot of reps with Clayton Thorson.
  • Overall, Thorson looked solid. He had a nice throw to Carr on a rollout and another one down the middle to Nagel from the pocket.
  • Trae Williams, who officially moved to safety this offseason, also played some at corner. He’ll likely see time at both spots as a backup, especially with Keith Watkins II done for the season.

This was the final practice open to the media. Friday night is Meet the Team Night, and then we are in to Week 1 game week versus Western Michigan!