Have we mentioned how good Mick Williams looks?
The words Tony Wise used to describe the Pitt defensive tackle on one play in Wednesday’s morning practice were within PG-13 ratings but still not fit for print. Williams literally manhandled one side of the offensive line during a team drill — and this was during the non-contact portion of camp.
He so thoroughly dominated the session that Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt rewarded Williams with a ride off the outdoor practice fields in his golf cart, dropping him off at the door.
Last season, Williams filled in admirably for the injured Gus Mustakas, starting six of the final seven games and recording eight tackles for loss and three sacks. Williams was the defensive star of spring drills, earning the Ed Conway Award as most improved.
Williams started practice with a drill where the defensive linemen swam through and slapped series of blocking dummies, and his quickness in doing so rivaled the ends. After dropping 20 pounds, from 290 to 270, his athleticism is shining through.
And, starting with the play inside, promised that the defensive line will be the catalysts for the Panthers’ defense this season.
“At one point in time, we were at the bottom of the totem pole,” Williams said. “We’ve stepped our game up and we’re going to be great for this team.”
• One change to the groupings was that Joe Thomas replaced Jason Pinkston at right tackle with the first-team offense, making it possible that they will rotate back and forth between morning and afternoon sessions this week.
Thomas, however, almost immediately drew the wrath of Wannstedt when he jumped off-sides during a special teams drill. “Concentrate on the damn ball!” Wannstedt hollered. “That’s a three-year starter jumping off-sides.”
• Another change saw Aaron Smith fill in for T.J. Porter with the receivers. Porter turned his ankle in the opening practice, so it might have just been a numbers game. But Smith has been smooth, making a nice catch and sidestepping linebacker Greg Williams today, and also is capable of handling punt returns.
• Tyler Tkach replaced Doug Fulmer at defensive end, allowing Jabaal Sheard to take reps with the first-team defense.
• After twisting his knee Monday, Derek Kinder practiced but did not participate in one-on-one or team drills.
• Kicker Kevin Harper blasted a 37-yard field goal over the netting behind the goal posts, another thing we’ve never seen. He’s showing a strong leg, but his accuracy was a bit off. He followed that by hitting his next two wide left, one a knuckleball.
• No surprise, but LeSean McCoy continues to show fancy footwork. He put a jaw-dropping move on one defender yesterday, then cut sharply past safety Dom DeCicco today. Byham, by the way, was added to the watch list for the Mackey Award, presented to the nation’s top tight end.
• Quarterback Bill Stull made a couple nice throws, most notably an out on the right sideline to tight end Nate Byham with DeCicco hanging on him.
• Camp also saw its first scuffle, between right guard Chris Jacobson and nose tackle Tommie Duhart, that was quickly broken up.
• The Panthers practice again at 3 p.m.