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Team-On-Team Work Keys ECU Practice

East Carolina took advantage of cooler temperatures with a later starting time Wednesday evening and bounced back with a determined two-hour practice on Hight Field inside the Cliff Moore Practice Complex.

After working in high heat and humidity levels a day earlier which produced a workout that third-year head coach Skip Holtz described as "not one of our better ones," the Pirates responded with a spirited effort during the session which incorporated many elements of a full-fledged scrimmage.

ECU opened the workout with brief individual drill and special teams (punt return and punt coverage) periods before moving quickly to an extended team-on-team session, which featured plenty of contact but no tackling, in preparation for their second scrimmage of camp scheduled for Saturday afternoon at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Included in the team work was an emphasis on redzone production and a practice-closing two-minute drill.

"I thought we came back with a great practice," Holtz said. "This was probably one of the last times that we'll go against each other in that aspect and I was happy to see the spirit return after a tough day yesterday. Another positive has been the progress that our offense has made lately. They're starting to come together and that's certainly encouraging."

Holtz however expressed concern with the mounting number of injuries that has slowed development in some areas, most notably on the defensive side of the ball. A total of 10 players, half of those members of the preseason depth chart, missed Wednesday and prior practices because of injuries which has thinned out the front seven and secondary.

"I'm mostly concerned because we're not getting the quality of work we need," Holtz added. "We have 105 in camp and I was told today that we only had 89 available. On the other hand, perhaps on a positive note, it has helped us create some depth over there and allowed many of the younger guys to get in some additional work."

NOTES: In addition to previous injury reports that included junior LB Quentin Cotton (shoulder), junior CB Jerek Hewett (concussion), junior DT Khalif Mitchell (knee) and sophomore DE Scotty Robinson (knee), a total of six additional players missed Wednesday's session with ailments - senior DT James Graham (knee), senior DT Craig Harper (knee), sophomore LB Nick Johnson (shoulder), redshirt freshman DL Willie Smith (knee), true freshman LB Steve Spence (shoulder) and true freshman DB Devon Wallace (concussion) ... All, with the exception of Harper, are expected to be back in time for ECU's season opener against the Hokies ... Redshirt freshman A.J. Johnson, who signed with the Pirate program as a linebacker, has experienced significant work on the defensive line at the end position during camp so far ... True freshman CB Travis Simmons participated with the No. 1 unit during Wednesday's team segment, while other rookies DT Linval Joseph, CB Emanuel Davis and CB Darryl Reynolds ran with the second team ... Thursday's Practice Time: 6:30 p.m. - 8:40 p.m.; Season Opener: Sept. 1 at Virginia Tech (12 noon)


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