PITTSBURGH — Pitt took the field for their one-off practice at Heinz Field Thursday. While they continue to work towards their first game against Massachusetts, the Panthers have some things to figure out in the defensive backfield. Notable players such as Damarri Mathis, Brandon Hill, Erick Hallett, and Rashad Battle all are receiving praise from Pat Narduzzi.
However, a second-year starter on the outside is becoming the real star of Pitt’s training camp. As he steps into his second year starting, Marquis Williams has impressed Narduzzi and the rest of the coaching staff. Despite being the smallest cornerback in the room, Williams has been impressive even in man coverage.
“You know, Marquis has really played well,” Narduzzi said. “He’s come in with an attitude, he’s locked in, he’s focused. I’ve really liked what I’ve seen from him in the first five or six days.”
A.J. Woods, who split reps with Williams last year at the outside cornerback spot as been nicked up. Narduzzi mentioned that Woods was dealing with a calf injury in his press conference on Wednesday. Williams will be looking to take an iron grip upon that job with Woods out to a degree.
Owen Drexel is the new starting center with Jimmy Morrissey now with the Las Vegas Raiders. Blake Zubovic and Terrence Moore are the guys who have been working behind Drexel according to Narduzzi. It sets up a rotation at center that should be a key one to watch for the Panthers.
“Blake Zubovic is getting a lot of work at the center position,” Narduzzi said. “Terrence Moore is getting a lot of work behind him. We feel really good about that rotation.”
Drexel is working on the communication part of that position. Pitt is will have to make sure that position is stellar in order for the offensive line to revitalize the running game. After building that momentum to end off the season, Drexel will be an instrumental piece in a Panthers hopefully improved offensive line.
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