Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says Kelly Bryant is still the most consistent quarterback of the three battling for the job after five days of fall camp.
Bryant, a junior, is in an intense battle with freshmen Zerrick Cooper and Hunter Johnson to see who will replace Deshaun Watson as the Tigers’ new signal-caller. Watson of course will make his NFL debut in Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday night when the Carolina Panthers host the Houston Texans in their first preseason game at Bank of America Stadium.
But Tuesday was all about Bryant and how he continues to get the job done.
“He has had five really good days,” Swinney said. “He has had really excellent command (of the offense). Zerrick and Hunter have really great potential and are doing an excellent job as well … They are all doing a really good job, but Kelly is a little more consistent with his decision making. He is making the right decisions. They all three are doing well.”
Since no one asked Swinney about freshman Chase Brice, who enrolled earlier this summer, he bragged on the Grayson (Ga.) High School product.
“He is pretty good too,” the Clemson coach said. “Here is a kid that really impressed me because I thought he would behind, but man he has really displayed a great aptitude to pick it up. He has done a good job with the protections and all of that. He is still making up some ground, but he is sharp and has really done some good things.
“So with all four of those guys, I’m really encouraged with what I have seen.”
Tigers have a long way to go. Clemson’s football team has a long ways to go before it becomes a complete football team, but on Tuesday it took a step in the right direction.
The Tigers held their first practice in full pads on the practice fields behind the Allen Reeves Football Complex. Clemson worked for two-and-a-half hours and made the most of the full contact opportunity.
The first two periods featured the PAW Drill, while they ended the evening with two periods of work inside the 30-yard line and with some short yardage situations.
“We have a long way to go and a lot of work to do to really get ready to scrimmage,” Swinney said after practice. “Today was a step in the right direction because we started to get some live work in today.
“We don’t get a lot of opportunities to go truly live in fall camp so when we do that, we have to cut it loose and maximize our opportunities.”
Swinney reported Tuesday was a positive step, but there is a lot more they have to do.
“We will keep mixing a little bit in,” he said. “Tomorrow the same thing, Thursday, Friday and then we will have some walkthroughs mixed in as well. Kind of not true practices, but some extensions from our meetings on the field for a longer period of time the next couple of days and then we will cut it loose on Saturday.
“It’s hard when you only get so many opportunities to go live and it kind of exposes bad habits and maybe a lack of knowledge by some guys.”
Swinney said he saw a little bit of that today, but he is encouraged.
M.A.S.H. Unit. Tuesday might have been the first day in full pads, but it appeared as if the Tigers had been hitting all week. Several players missed Tuesday’s practice or were limited, including wide receiver Amari Rodgers, wide receiver Cornell Powell, defensive end Clelin Ferrell, guard Tyrone Crowder, linebacker Chad Smith, Logan Rudolph and Shadell Bell.
Swinney said none of the injuries are serious. However, Bell was in a walking boot. Safety Van Smith was in a green jersey and only participated in individual drills.
“We looked like Colonel Mustard Marching Band out there today,” he said jokingly. “We had a bunch of guys dinged up with different stuff, nothing major. For whatever reason they could not go today, but we will get all of those guys back here pretty soon.”
Swinney said they could be getting Rodgers and Powell back on Wednesday.
Clemson will continue practice on Wednesday in the late afternoon. All practices are closed to the public. Clemson will have its first scrimmage of the year on Saturday.
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