The Panthers endured another day of high heat and humidity Wednesday morning, but their play was sharper on the second day of training camp at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex on the South Side.
As usual, Pitt started with special teams play, but this time punter Dave Brytus practiced dropping the ball inside the 20 with defensive backs trying to down the ball. Kennard Cox downed one at the 1-yard line, but Ricky Gary ran into Jovani Chappel while trying to do the same.
In seven-on-seven drills, Cox also made a nice play on a sideline pass intended for T.J. Porter, shoving Porter out of bounds after he hauled in a pass and desperately tried to touch down his right foot and stay in bounds.
A scary moment came when Stull threw a pass over the middle to tight end Nate Byham, who was sandwiched by middle linebacker Scott McKillop and safety Eric Thatcher. Pitt players aren’t wearing pads, so all three suffered from the collision, but Thatcher took the brunt of it and came up limping. He walked it off and continued to practice.
The offensive and defensive linemen squared off in a one-on-one pass-protection drill. Freshman guard Chris Jacobson fought off nose tackle John Malecki. Junior-college transfer Tommie Duhart then popped Jacobson in the chest, rushing by him for a sack. Tackle Jason Pinkston held off end Ty Tkach. Gus Mustakas and Joe Thomas battled to a draw. Center Chris Vangas struggled to fend off Malecki, resorting to holding his jersey. And guard C.J. Davis shoved Rashaad Duncan backwards, trying to pancake him before a whistle was blown.
In 11-on-11 drills, the defensive line got the better of their counterparts. Malecki blew up the first play and stopped LaRod Stephens-Howling in the backfield. Chris McKillop stripped Stull from behind, knocking the ball loose. And Greg Romeus batted down a Stull dump pass intended for Porter.
Porter made a nice one-hand catch in traffic, then zipped past the secondary. The sophomore is showing flashes of his promise and could make a push for a starting job. Porter also is in contention to return punts. He still isn’t there yet, though, as Porter fumbled a reverse hand-off from Stull.
Stull put nice zip on his short patterns, especially swing routes in the open field. He had trouble, however, with the deep ball. A long pass intended for Marcel Pestano floated until Cox and Chappel converged on the ball, with Cox picking it off in a basket catch.
= Pitt recruit Manny Williams and Clairton coach Tom Nola visited the South Side facility between practices. Several other prospects are expected to visit this week, including Aliquippa receiver Jonathan Baldwin on Friday.