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Wednesday Practice Report: Olsen, Gore, The Truth, A Tooth

Greg Olsen and Frank Gore attended practice.

CB Brandon Harris says he "feels great" getting back into football coming off his track season.

Yesterday I had a pretty solid day just getting back into the play book and things like that. Today I'm starting to feel better than I did last year at this point. The depth is not really there, so we're pretty much in the whole practice, get a lot of reps. That helps get me back faster.

Asked how hard it is to take down RB Lamar Miller, Harris responded:

Miller time! That's my boy there. It's tough, because Lamar is a very fast kid. He's a guy that will sneak up on you. If you think he's going to fake you out he'll lower his shoulder on you and get in your chest. You have to pick your poison with Lamar and just hope you get him on the ground. He won't go down easy, though.

LaRon Byrd was a standout on offense in Wednesday's two-hour practice. Kendal Thompkins also had a nice 20-yard gain on a drag route. Damien Berry enjoyed a long run in team drills.

On defense Demarcus Van Dyke had the lone interception in team work on a corner route, his second practice in a row with a turnover. The team also came close to getting two other turnovers. Sean Spence had a couple of big stops during the third down period, keeping the offense from converting.

Brandon McGee is getting over the effects of a tooth problem and hasn't practiced the last two days.

Brandon Washington has his left knee in a brace and can't bend it, but he will not need surgery and is expected back before the end of spring.

LB Sean Spence says his progress is "coming well. I'm taking it day by day, trying to get better each and every day."

Of the defense overall, Spence said, "We're coming along pretty well. We have the same coordinator. We're building on what we did last year, working on finishing and trying to create turnovers."

Spence is up to 217 pounds, five pounds more than a year ago. On areas of his game he wants to work on this spring:

Everything. I feel like there's always room for improvement. I'm not satisfied with any parts of my game. I'm just trying to get better each and every day.

On his play last season:

It was not what I wanted it to be. I wanted to come out and help the team win games. I wasn't able to do that. I got hurt and had a setback. Now, I just need to bounce back.

On expectations as a junior:

A lot of leadership. I want to be able to keep my composure on the field. I want to help my defense stay together when we're going through rough times on the field. Just being a natural leader.

On tight end Richard Gordon:

He's looking good. He's a load. He's catching a lot more balls. He's being physical. He's always been physical. Catching the ball and getting on the field has been a big part of his game already this year.

Freshman OL Malcolm Bunche is working as the second team right guard.

"It's tough. Blocking Curtis (Porter), he's good ... It ain't no cupcake. I'm still trying to work on some of the plays, some of the blocking schemes. I'm trying to help however I can."

Bunche tested at 435 pounds in the bench press and had a 420-pound squat. He currently weighs 340 pounds; he said he'd like to play at 315 pounds next season.

Helping the cause - Bunche's mother and sister are both personal trainers. His mother has given him a diet to follow.

"(My mom's) a health junkie, so it's a lot of fruits and vegetables, protein, stuff like that," Bunche said.

WR Kendal Thompkins said of his progress this spring that "It's coming along well. Everyone is trying to get better."

Thompkins is working at slot and outside receiver. "I'm working on everything," he said.

While there was some speculation pre-spring that Thompkins could move to defensive back, he says he's set on playing wide receiver.

"I'm staying with receiver, am focused at receiver right now," Thompkins said.

The team doesn't practice on Thursday but will return to the field on Friday. Randy Shannon's comments:

We had an emphasis today on run game with the offensive line, defensive line, linebackers, tight ends - the running backs all went at the D line, went at it with no receivers seeing who can line up and knock some guys off the football, who can tackle. I thought it was a good physical time today. We ran maybe 12, 15 plays of it, so we really got a lot of work on that. We finished up on a third down situation, third and three, see if we can get the three yards or stop them, see if you can convert on third down and seven. See if you can tackle and make plays. I thought that was big to get a little taste of it before this weekend coming up with scrimmage work.

How do you balance things in the spring - if the offense plays well, does that mean the defense isn't playing well?

You know what I go on? If you're improving or staying the same. Like LaRon Byrd made some plays today still. So he's improving still. You see guys keep making plays, improving. Now the guys who go up and down, that's when you get discouraged about it. You always want guys to be focused on getting better as a football team, getting better individually.

How is Malcolm Bunche picking up the offense?

Okay, a freshman. Those guys, anyone who comes in January is going to struggle a little bit. Midway through spring football or the last week of spring football he'll probably be understanding the tempo and things like that. But he's doing okay right now.

Talk about his physical side.

He's a little bit heavy right now, about 340, 350. But he looks good physically, is still strong. He's a very athletic guy. The thing that's slowing him down now is the learning process. In due time he'll be able to go full speed.

Sean Spence wasn't as productive last year.

Spence was a little banged up last year. That was the biggest thing. It's a new season, new year, and he's starting off fast right now in spring football.

It was last spring that Damien Berry broke out.

He emerged as a guy that can come in and run the football inside. He came in last year and ran the ball hard. Like we told him, `Now you have to become the complete guy. You've got to be a guy that can pass protect, run routes, run outside and do other things beside just run up the middle.'

When Berry switched positions from defensive back, why did you do that? At the time you had all those running backs.

We were looking ahead. When we had all those running backs we kept getting injured. I said let's look at a guy that has the potential to play running back, and we had some DB's. I said maybe a year from now he can help us, we can build some depth there.

Berry didn't play last year till the fourth or fifth game.

It was because of the footwork, handling the football - guys not used to carrying the football are going to fumble a lot. But now he's getting used to it every day. Back then he was getting used to the shots and the cuts and reads. He came along pretty well.

How is Vaughn Telemaque progressing?

He's doing well, a lot better than this time last season. He's starting to make a lot of plays.

You've said you feel more comfortable with the team this season. Why is that?

Because we have more depth. I'm not worrying about five offensive linemen making practice or five defensive linemen. You have depth now. You feel good about your team, the progress you've made. You feel good because you have numbers to work with. You see guys that are growing, getting bigger. You look at LaRon Byrd, how big he's gotten, the offensive line, the defensive line is big and physical. When I took over we were small. Right now we're really starting to do the things we need to get done.

Marcus Robinson, do you look for him to be more of an all-around player instead of just a pass rusher?

For all of them. Always your third year you have to expect guys to do something.