The tailback competition took an interesting twist on the second day of training camp, when Chris Burns shined in Wednesday’s morning practice session by turning several screen passes into big plays.
After a forgettable spring, Burns fell behind freshman Dion Lewis and redshirt sophomore Shariff Harris on the depth chart. The addition of freshmen Jason Douglas and Ray Graham left the backfield crowded.
When the Panthers went to 11-on-11 drills, however, Burns took his starring turn. He caught a screen pass, cut inside and turned up field for a nice catch-and-run through traffic.
Burns was only getting started.
When the defense sent Elijah Fields on a safety blitz, Burns pulled in another short pass and burst 40 yards to score. Later, Burns jumped between linebackers Adam Gunn and Greg Williams to snatch another pass.
That’s more in one practice than Burns did all spring.
• Tino Sunseri practiced with the first group, replacing Pat Bostick as the second-team quarterback. Sunseri threw some nice deep balls, including a touchdown to Jonathan Baldwin but also overshot both Dorin Dickerson on a streak on the right sideline and Cedric McGee on a post.
• Chris Jacobson worked with the first-team offense at left guard, after taking snaps with the second-teamers Tuesday. Joe Thomas moved to the second team, perhaps an indication that the two will rotate early in camp until one distinguishes himself as the starter.
• Another example of a player pushing a starter for repetitions came when sophomore safety Andrew Taglianetti replaced Fields with the first-team defense for a series. Taglianetti’s presence and penchant for making big plays alone should push Fields to perform in camp.
• Defensive tackle Mick Williams was disruptive in 11-on-11 drills, blowing up a double-team block to break up one pass play and chasing down Baldwin on a reverse after defensive end Greg Romeus forced Baldwin to take a wide turn.
• When cornerback Jovani Chappel tried to jam Baldwin at the line of scrimmage, the sophomore receiver delivered a two-handed punch that knocked Chappel on his backside.
• Stull threw a pass over the middle to tight end Nate Byham, who caught the ball despite having safety Dom DeCicco draped on his back and then broke up field for a big gain before the play was whistled dead.
• Backup defensive tackle Chas Alexcih beat redshirt freshman right guard Ryan Turnley to sack Sunseri near the end of practice.
• The Panthers practice again at 3 p.m.