Despite a very optimistic prognosis, the reality of Adrian Peterson’s injury set in during Monday morning’s practice. Peterson arrived at practice with his left arm in a sling, protecting his injured left shoulder.
For the better part of an hour, Peterson stayed near the training tents at the edge of the practice field doing cardio training on a stationary bike and a stair-stepper. Peterson appeared to be in good spirits, but the immobility of his left arm clearly affected his balance on the stationary bike.
After exercising on his own for most of practice, Peterson walked onto the field to watch the scrimmage portion of the practice. Peterson could be spotted near assistant coach Cale Gundy, behind Chuck Long and the quarterbacks. Peterson peered over shoulders and listened to the coaches, appearing eager to learn plays despite his injury.
Peterson injured himself Sunday night in front of an estimated 11,000 people at Oklahoma’s first fall scrimmage, when Brandon Shelby took out Peterson’s feet, causing him to land awkwardly on his left arm.
The stands were noticeably more empty than usual on Monday morning, with only a very small crowd of observers on hand to watch the Peterson-less practice.
One running back goes down, another returns
Oklahoma redshirt-freshman running back Tashard Choice took part in drills for the first time Monday morning. Choice participated in drills taking handoffs and short passes from quarterbacks, though he did not appear to receive any repetitions during the 11-on-11 portion of practice.
Choice still possesses an impressive physique, and he is expected to compete for playing time if he makes a full recovery. Early in the practice, Choice appeared tentative in pass catching drills.
Gundy threw a short pass to Choice during a drill. Choice did not pick up the football, and did not react to the throw until it was already past him.
Choice went through the rest of drills without incident. After catching a number of short passes, and taking numerous handoffs, Choice watched his teammates in contact drills from the sidelines.
The Birdman cometh
Defensive end Larry Birdine continued his recent trend of solid play this morning with an impressive practice session. Birdine was picked by many to be the breakthrough player on the 2003 defensive line. After bursting out of the gate early in the year with impressive showings, Birdine faded at the end and ended up taking a backseat to All-American Dan Cody.
The “Bird-call” might have been a season early, as the third year player from Lawton, Okla. has been dominating the second team offensive line on a regular basis. Birdine is still among the most impressive looking players on the Oklahoma roster. In fact, he’s probably the first defensive lineman you want walking off the bus.
This morning Birdine once again showed that he can do more than fill up a uniform. He rushed around the right side of the line to collect a sack on Jason White, and then came from the left to draw what would have been an easy holding call on backup tackle Chris Messner.
Birdine is still the solid No. 3 defensive end after senior Jonathan Jackson returned to the team Monday morning. It appears that Birdine is ready to deliver on his tremendous potential, and be an impact reserve for the star-studded Oklahoma defensive line.
Walker takes reps, Onyenegecha takes a seat
After playing only one snap with the second team players during 11-on-11 drills, cornerback Chijioke Onyenegecha stood and watched the rest of the scrimmage from the sidelines. Onyenagecha had worked extensively during 7-on-7 drills, and special teams drills, but was replaced by freshman Marcus Walker after one play with the second team defense, and did not return.
Onyenagecha did not appear to be hurt, and was receiving no attention from the trainers. Many might mistake Onyenagecha’s signature strut for a limp, but there was nothing else abnormal about his strides.
Walker, on the other hand, might be walking strangely too after the last two days of practice. The young corner looks primed to make a run at serious playing time as he has received more reps than perhaps any other cornerback on campus.
In Sunday night’s scrimmage, Walker received work with the first team, and extensive work with the second, third and freshman teams. During practice today, he filled in for Onyenagecha as the second team “field” corner, and played his usual reps as the third team “short” corner.
Even if Walker doesn’t see significant playing time, he is obviously being handed an extreme amount of reps for a reason: the freshman can really play.