Army Preseason: Full Pads, Full Steam Ahead

Rich Ellerson (Rob Christy-US PRESSWIRE)

Army concluded its opening week of training camp Sunday morning, with the players in full pads for the first time. The team had spent the previous four practices getting players acclimated to the practice format, familiarizing players with drills, and bring players up to speed—literally, increasing the pace of practice each day.

Wednesday August 8, the first day of practice, was essentially a two-hour walk-through conducted in helmets and shorts. The focus was primarily on teaching new Black Knights how to practice as opposed to actually holding a practice. Wednesday marked the first day that recently hired fullbacks/special teams coach Luke Thompson had a chance to take the field with his new charges.

Asked about his time at practice, Thompson said, "It was exciting. I've been here for a few months and been around the guys, but to finally get out on the field and be able to do some things was exciting."

Thursday marked the beginning of three hour preseason practices, and picked up the speed. On Friday, players practiced in shells and increased the physicality of position and team drills. Saturday, leading up to Sunday's full contact practice, Ellerson and his coaching staff focused on preparing players to adjust to the different expectations of full contact practice.

Even early on, there are some indications of how offseason concerns are shaping up. Junior Justin Trimble seems to have the initial edge on taking over former captain and graduate Steve Erzinger at rover. On Saturday, plebe Brandon Fusilier-Jeffries also took snaps with the first and second team at the rover position.

New recruit Bobby Kough, a junior who won a starting DT position in the spring, continued to line up in front, along with sophomore Joe Drummond. Another recruit, Rich Glover, looks to be the current starting right defensive tackle.

One the offensive side of the ball, sophomore Stephen Shumaker initially lined up at right guard, but by Saturday, versatile senior Will Wilson, who had played tackle in the spring, was taking most of the snaps at right guard.

The Black Knights will have their first day off on Monday, and resume full contact practice Tuesday morning.

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