Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ohio State Fall Camp Days—Players Say Camp Tougher, but Better

Posted by HD Handshoe

It was billed as Hell Week, but for Ohio State football players, it might have been Jell Week.

Last week, the Buckeyes were put through grueling workouts on the field and stripped of cell phones, televisions and other electronic gizmos off of it.

They had had no choice but to get to know one another a little more and get to know the game even better.

"We came together as a team," linebacker Ross Homan said yesterday. "It was just all football; sleep and football. It's been a very intense, very physical camp, and I think it's going to help us."

With the season opener against Navy nine days away, camp is almost over. And there were signs yesterday in practice that some things are on the upswing.

Left guard Justin Boren, who suffered a sprained knee Aug. 14 and had practiced little since then, took part in the entire session with the first-team offensive line.

Senior receiver Ray Small, whose start of camp was delayed until Aug. 14 because of academic issues, appeared to be getting farther removed from coach Jim Tressel's doghouse. Small took part in some plays with the first-team offense and still appears to be the No. 1 choice for punt returner.

On defense, end Nathan Williams went through workouts with the linebackers, helping shore up the ranks while one projected starter, Austin Spitler, recovers from a calf strain suffered last week.

When the first-team defense took the field, the linebackers were Homan, a returning starter, with Brian Rolle and Etienne Sabino. Defensive tackle Doug Worthington scooted down to end while Cameron Heyward recovers from a sprained ankle.

The practice, conducted in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts, was considered light contact. Yet it still had the intensity that has been the hallmark of this camp, right guard Bryant Browning said.

"This is my fourth year here, and this has been by far the hardest camp," Browning said. "The guys are really laying it on the line every day, we're taking the coaching the best that we can, we're trying to apply it out here, we're really getting after each other, offense vs. defense.

"We're just trying to get each other better, because we both know what goals we want as a team."

When asked to define what "hardest camp" meant, Browning smiled and said, "More of everything. More running, more hitting, more full-pad practices, more scrimmages. I think they are just trying to get us game-ready as quick as possible because we have a real tough September schedule."

Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa agreed that this camp has been tougher, but "it's also been more fun. I don't know why, but it's been fun and tougher at the same time. So I guess it's been a good camp for me."

The defense has found a rallying cry for the season: no name, no blame. Homan said it plays off the absence of four Buckeyes taken in the NFL draft: linebacker James Laurinaitis, cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, linebacker Marcus Freeman and cornerback Donald Washington.

"We can go out there without all the pressure," Homan said. "We can go out there and play relaxed and confident."

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Photo Copyright:
Original article was written by Tim May of THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH and appears here.

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