PITTSBURGH — As head coach Pat Narduzzi broke down expectations for Saturday’s scrimmage before Friday’s practice, he emphasized the importance of staying healthy. And as he spoke, a player ran through the locker room tunnel, skidded across the sidewalk and rolled into the grass.
It took Narduzzi a little bit of time to focus again, his mind still stuck on those “idiots.” Idiots being used as a term of endearment, of course.
Pitt hit the field in spider pads Friday morning, running through practice down at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. And with Saturday serving as a chance to go live in 11-on-11 reps at Acrisure Stadium, it’ll be important to stay healthy but also use the live reps as a way to figure out a bit more about the roster.
Friday’s practice available to the media wasn’t especially telling, especially the day before a scrimmage, but the positional work continued.
Narduzzi mentioned both Karter Johnson and Kyi Wright before practice, and both Johnson and Wright ran smoothly during drills available to the media. Wright is healthy after last season’s season-ending injury, and he’s expected to make an impact in the offense this season. Johnson, at 6-foot-2, 255 pounds, is an athlete — an athlete to be utilized across the offense.
P.J. O’Brien is continuing to have a good camp, standing at 6-foot, 185 pounds this season, and he’ll likely play a lot behind the safety duo of Brandon Hill and Erick Hallett. Khalil Anderson, who is listed at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, looks more and more like a linebacker as he’s transitioned back to safety.
Secondary coach Archie Collins stressed the mental aspect of Anderson’s game earlier this month, continuing to ingrain himself in Pitt’s defense, but he’s more than ready physically.
The trio of Bangally Kamara, Shayne Simon and Solomon DeShields offer a lot of potential in Pitt’s linebacking corps, and the addition of Tylar Wiltz has added another strong contributor. It isn’t the deepest or most experienced unit on the roster, but Pitt is certainly leaps and bounds from where it was earlier this offseason.
It’s clear that Pitt will rotate its linebackers across all three positions this season. That versatility is another underrated aspect.