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Takeaways From Michigan's Offense, Defense At Today's Open Practice

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Michigan will hold its annual spring game on April 13. (Austin Fox)

Michigan held an open spring football practice this afternoon at The Big House, and the staff of TheWolverine was on hand for the entirety of the event.

The Wolverine players were not in pads and as a result primarily focused on drills, but there were still plenty of notable observations nonetheless.

TheWolverine's Chris Balas provided his notable takeaways surrounding the entire event earlier today, while Andrew Hussey focused on significant offensive tidbits and Austin Fox on the defense and special teams items below:

Offensive Observations:

Michigan's tight end group. (Austin Fox)

• Early enrollee freshman tight end Erick continued to impress during the open practice. He had a nice over-the-shoulder grab near the end of the seven-on-seven portion of the practice. While he wasn’t working with the wide receivers Saturday, he still resembles a wide receiver who plays tight end. He moves around very well, but still needs to put on some weight.

• In positional drills, senior tight end Sean McKeon looked really smooth and was very fluid in his movements. He’s got the most size of anyone at the position. He and Eubanks are going to be the starting duo.

• Redshirt freshman quarterback Joe Milton’s arm talent remains the best on the team. In various drills, he showed off the strong of an arm he possesses. During one drill in particular, he was able to sidearm his throws and still have great velocity.

• Early enrollee freshman wide receiver Mike Sainristil could see playing time early in his career. He flashed his speed in the practice and he also lined up at running back for some snaps. That could be a way for him to get on the field.

• Redshirt freshman right tackle Jalen Mayfield has the size and the quickness to earn the starting job. He moved around well and looks well-built in the various offensive line drills he participated in.

Defensive Observations:

U-M's defensive line going through drills today. (Austin Fox)

• Perhaps the most notable observation regarding the defensive line today was that redshirt junior tackle Michael Dwumfour was in uniform and standing with his position-mates throughout the afternoon, but had his helmet off for the majority of the session and sat out most of the drills. Head coach Jim Harbaugh revealed on Monday that he had suffered an injury worse than originally thought, but the veteran lineman didn't have any visible ailments while walking around today.

• Redshirt sophomore Phillip Paea has been moved back to the defensive line and worked with them all afternoon (as did junior running back/defensive lineman Ben Mason). Paea was wearing his usual No. 58, which is the same number that freshman tackle Mazi Smith was wearing. One of them will obviously have to switch if they both hope to see the field this season.

• Redshirt sophomore defensive end Luiji Vilain was also a full participant after missing his first two years at Michigan with injury. Defensive coordinator Don Brown revealed last week he had been active in all of U-M's practices this spring, but it was still a positive development to finally see him in action nonetheless.

• Senior Josh Uche is expected to once again fill his defensive end/linebacker tweener role in 2019, but spent the entire afternoon working with the defensive linemen (despite being listed as a linebacker on the roster).

• Redshirt freshman Michael Barrett spent the day working out with the vipers, a move that was confirmed by Harbaugh earlier this spring.

• Redshirt junior linebacker Devin Gil was seen publicly wearing his new No. 8 jersey for the first time (he was No. 36 last year).

• Junior linebacker Josh Ross and redshirt freshman Cam McGrone did not participate today, both presumably sitting out with injury.

• There had been some confusion as to which position a trio of redshirt freshmen defensive backs — Gemon Green, German Green and Sammy Faustin — had been working at, but that was cleared up today when Faustin and German Green received their reps at safety, while Gemon Green spent his time with the cornerbacks.

• Junior Jaylen Kelly-Powell spent the afternoon working solely with the cornerbacks, a move that Brown had revealed last week.

• As expected, senior cornerback Lavert Hill missed the afternoon with injury.

• Redshirt freshman cornerback Myles Sims still appeared to be as skinny as he was last year as a freshman (he is currently listed at 183 pounds). He was also spotted in his new No. 46 jersey after wearing No. 6 last season.

Special Teams Observations:

Michigan's punt returners, from left: Martin, Bell and Sainristil (Barrett was heavily involved as well). (Austin Fox)

• There was no sign of redshirt sophomore punter Brad Robbins this afternoon, as redshirt junior Will Hart expectedly handled the majority of the punting duties.

• Michigan worked out four players on punt returns in junior wideout Donovan Peoples-Jones' injury absence — Barrett, sophomore receiver Ronnie Bell, redshirt sophomore wideout Oliver Martin and freshman receiver Mike Sainristil, with the latter looking like a natural catching the ball.


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