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Sights & Sounds: Practice 7 Sees Pitt Working Out in the Rainy Conditions



PITTSBURGH — You’d have thought there would be more drops as the rain fell during Thursday’s practice at the UPMC Rooney Sports Center.

I saw a few. Jake Renda had a ball from Christian Veilleux slip through his outstretched hands on a fade down the sideline during drills available to the media, but I saw a lot of nice catches, too.

Wet, rainy conditions usually mean that Pitt heads inside, but Pat Narduzzi wanted to use the conditions as a way to prepare for potential games in such elements. And he actually was out in drills with a foam-covered bat trying to knock balls loose from quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends.

There was an element of expecting the worse and just making sure to hang onto the football. But maybe Narduzzi just wanted to get involved in the action.

I know I sound like a broken record, but Konata Mumpfield continues to make everything look so easy. He adjusted beautifully to catch a throw slightly inside between the ‘safety’ duo of Frank Cignetti Jr. and Pat Narduzzi, hanging on when Narduzzi hit him with the foam bat. As Narduzzi says, Mumpfield is a ball player.

And on a drill later in practice, against air, to be fair, Phil Jurkovec dropped a ball right into Mumpfield’s arms on a fade. Looked very nice.

Jake McConnachie held onto the football even after a particularly precise jab from Narduzzi, and he made sure to let Narduzzi hear it. “Oh, yeah!” he said, jumping up and down on the way back to the line. But Narduzzi got a bit of revenge later, managing to knock the ball free from Lamar Seymore’s arms in the back of the end zone.

Narduzzi shared a few quick words with Seymore afterward, coaching up a freshman wideout who has been impressive this summer.

Zion Fowler-El was particularly impressive Thursday, hauling in every ball that was thrown his way. Somehow the true freshmen just keep getting better.

On the other side, Javon McIntyre continues to be lauded as the leader of the safeties. It’s been that way since the spring, ever since he received a cameo against Miami and UCLA, but he’s growing as both a leader and a performer — at both the boundary and field spots.

P.J. O’Brien Jr. — who Narduzzi said still needs to make sure he’s doing what the coaches call instead of what he feels is best — is also growing this summer. He wasn’t where Narduzzi wanted early in the spring, but he’s continuing to progress next to McIntyre. Donovan McMillon, Steph Hall and Buddy Mack, too. Lots of competition in the room.

Archie Collins and Cory Sanders were putting the defensive backs as a whole through ball skills drills — jump balls, multi-directional movement, etc. A.J. Woods was the newest defensive back with a ‘takeaway’ sticker, but he was joined by Bangally Kamara, Shayne Simon and Bam Brima.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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