The theme of Pitt’s spring football practice has become injuries, what they mean to the team and how best to avoid them.
Pitt coach Paul Chryst ordered his team to take off their pads Tuesday – NCAA rules mandate three such sessions, with the third at the coach’s discretion. Tuesday was the third.
Good call, coach. The team needed the break.
“I thought we did a good job of being physical up to this point,” he said.
Chryst might have gone helmets-only — even without the injuries Friday to running backs James Conner (knee) and Isaac Bennett (shoulder) and fullback Adam Lazenga (leg) that will keep them out the remainder of the spring.
But he did indicate he is wary of getting too many key players hurt when the first game is nearly five months in the future.
Asked about the possibility of putting red jerseys on some players, other than the quarterbacks, to remind teammates to be careful, he said the thought has crossed his mind.
“You think about that all the time,” he said. “(Tuesday), the guys were doing a pretty good of staying off bodies. The bottom line is you have to learn how to practice and there are some things that happen. No one likes to see it, but those are hard to control.
“You just have to keep educating and say a prayer that every guy leaves the field like they came on.”
Here is a list of the injured players:
Offensive tackle Adam Bisnowaty. — “We have been careful with him,” Chryst said. (And that strategy likely will continue.)
Center Gabe Roberts and linebacker Zach Poker – “They won’t do much more than individual (work),” the coach said.
Defensive ends Devin Cook and Ejuan Price and Bennett – Limited.
Conner, Lazenga, linebacker Reggie Green, defensive tackle LaQuentin Smith and walk-on defensive end Trent Neavin – Out for the final four practices.
Chryst said every player on the list, with the exception of Neavin, will be ready to practice in August.
Quick thoughts about a few of the injured:
— Although the depth at tackle is improving, the team needs Bisnowaty to solidify the line with an experienced body.
— The successful recoveries of Cook and Price, assuming the best, will do wonders for a position lacking in depth.