It was Staff and Faculty Appreciation Day at Notre Dame, which meant the sidelines were lined with hundreds of Notre Dame employees and their families during practice on Saturday, Aug. 17.
Two things stood out right away: The number of players injured and the “DO NOT ENTER” sign on the back of the now-infamous gauntlet machine. (The sideline was off-limits to cameras on Saturday or else I would have snapped a picture of it.)
A rundown of who was out:
- Linebacker Danny Spond is done playing for good. Full story on that here.
- Back-up defensive lineman Tony Springmann was out with a brace on his right knee. Head coach Brian Kelly didn’t have the specifics on Springmann’s injury but said the junior will have an MRI on the knee.
- Redshirt freshman running back Will Mahone was sidelined with crutches and a boot on his right foot. Kelly said it was a high ankle sprain and that Mahone could be back between 10-12 days.
- Receivers Daniel Smith and Torii Hunter Jr. sat out of contract drills but ran some low-impact routes with the training staff during practice.
- Running back Cam McDaniel and offensive linemen Chris Watt and Conor Hanratty were also out, but Kelly said both should be back before the Temple game.
- Freshman running back Tarean Folston was absent from practice due to a death in the family.
Some observations on both side of the ball:
- Malik Zaire was a clear fan favorite among the crowd. They’d cheer every time the freshman completed a pass or shout words of encouragement if he missed a receiver.
- Tommy Rees and DaVaris Daniels looked good together on Saturday. The two connected several times in 11-on-11 scrimmages. Andrew Hendrix and Corey Robinson also developed quite a chemistry today. Robinson caught back-to-back 20-plus yard catches over cornerback Bennett Jackson’s head during the scrimmage. Robinson dropped a couple passes earlier in practice, but he made up for it with two spectacular grabs along the sideline with Jackson glued to him.
- Spotted cornerback Josh Atkinson working with the receivers today, but still wearing the white jersey of the defense. Atkinson, who likely won’t see the field much in the secondary with the return of Lo Wood, worked in the slot position.
- With Watt and Hanratty out, freshman Steve Elmer spent the day with the first-team offense at left guard.
- With Danny Spond out, freshman Jaylon Smith and Ben Councell switched off with the first-team linebackers throughout the day. Smith matched up successfully and athletically with CJ Prosise in the slot position all morning.
- In the wake of Springmann’s injury, sophomore Jarron Jones took reps with the second-team defense. If Springmann’s injury is as severe as it looks, expect to see Jones a lot this fall.