PITTSBURGH — Pitt hit the field at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex in pads for the second time this summer, one day after Sunday’s closed practice, and the heavy August heat lingered.
A wild weekend of rumors surrounding injuries to a certain quarterback were quelled by head Pat Narduzzi, but Kedon Slovis still took it easy on Monday. According to Narduzzi, Slovis’s limited status was nothing to worry about, and when practice resumes on Wednesday, he’ll be a full participant. And even with Slovis limited with what Narduzzi called muscle spasms, the rest of practice ran right through the heat.
With Slovis limited in drills available to the media, Nick Patti took a majority of first team reps with the quarterbacks, joined mainly by Derek Kyler and Eli Kosanovich, and the wide receiving corps is beginning to round into shape. It’s becoming much clearer who will play where and how much in 2022.
Jared Wayne and Bub Means outside and Konata Mumpfield inside appear to be leading the race for “starter” status entering the season, but it’s a unit that’s going to run deep in 2022. Jaden Bradley, Addison Copeland III and Myles Alston are playing outside while Jaylon Barden and Che Nwabuko are playing inside.
Copeland, in particular, looked sharp Monday. He received some hands-on coaching from wide receivers coach Tiquan Underwood.
The wide receivers also have a heavy presence in the punt return game, too. Mumpfield looked very crisp in return drills available to the media Monday. His Jordan Addison-like impact is becoming more and more clear by the day. Nwabuko, the Texas state champion track star, and Barden also received some reps in punt returns Monday.
M.J. Devonshire was the lone non-wide receiver fielding punts, and he may have been the most adept. He earned strong praise from Underwood.
The running backs room is a big unit, led by the ever-vocal Vincent Davis in personality. And after Israel Abanikanda leaped over a big exercise ball during a drill running backs coach Andre Powell clearly intended to work on agility slipped by without comment, Daniel Carter’s leap a few reps later drew an exasperated Powell to say, “No more f– jumping!” Davis ended the drill by powering through the ball, which Powell approved of.
Carter has earned praise all offseason long, and with the way his increased physicality has been mentioned, it’s somewhat of a surprise he didn’t power through the ball.
Gavin Bartholomew crashed into the — padded — goal post during a receiving drill Monday, looking no worse for wear upon jumping back to his feet. And his fellow tight ends continue to progress behind him. Karter Johnson continues to impress every practice, and Jake Renda’s progression is something to continue watching.
Josh Altsman, a walk-on tight end from Central Catholic, let a ball slip through his hands during the same drill, earning a reproach from Narduzzi himself, but he rebounded with an excellent diving catch in the back of the end zone. Someone to continue watching, too.