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Pitt's Taglianetti: Chryst changes atmosphere

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Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, 9:36 p.m.

• A year ago when Pitt opened football practice, players were excited to work with new coach Todd Graham, but not many were relieved that Dave Wannstedt was gone. Under new coach Paul Chryst, the atmosphere is different, fifth-year senior safety Andrew Taglianetti said. “It's more fun,” he said. “The culture has changed so much. We are not worried about how Coach Graham is going to view us as people and judge us as people.” Taglianetti said Graham's hype might have set up unreasonable expectations. “He was trying to paint this portrait of him being the ultimate man, and we (were) trying to do that, too. You had to watch everything.” Chryst trusts his players more than Graham did, Taglianetti said. “We come here to do our work and that's to play football, and I think coach Chryst gets that. It's up to us to live the right way off the field.”

• Junior Tyrone Ezell, who has mainly played tackle, lined up at left defensive end in an attempt to add more experience to the line. “He is a talented player,” Chryst said. “He has to get comfortable with what we are asking him to do so he can turn it loose. He is big (6-foot-4, 300 pounds) and certainly athletic enough. It will be fun to see in camp how he progresses, if (end) is truly a good fit for him.”

• Redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Tom Ricketts missed much of practice with what Chryst described as an “upper-body” injury. Ricketts, who is eligible for the first time after transferring from Penn State last year, had an ice pack strapped to his right shoulder.

• Running back Ray Graham, who is recovering from knee surgery, did almost everything, with the exception of the more physical 11-on-11 drills. But he said he felt good and plans to be ready for the opener Sept. 1.

— Jerry DiPaola

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