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Pitt notebook: Passing game remains 'sporadic' after 1st week of camp

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Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013, 5:15 p.m.

Coach Paul Chryst said Tuesday the passing game, which is being rebuilt at quarterback and wide receiver, remains a work in progress after seven days of practice.

When asked to characterize its timing and chemistry, he answered “sporadic.”

Said Chryst: “There are times where obviously we need more work.”

• Quarterbacks coach Brooks Bollinger said he likes how senior quarterback Tom Savage is grasping the deep passing game. “He has a pretty good feel (for the downfield throw),” Bollinger said. “He hit a couple today and that showed me something he is comfortable with.”

• Chryst said this week is an important period in camp where coaches start to determine which players will contribute this season. “The next week and a half is where you determine your starting point,” he said. “Separation (between regulars and backups) does occur and needs to occur.”

• Practice resumed after the team's first day off Monday, and Chryst wasn't pleased with the pace at the outset. “It was good learning and all that, but we have to start a little bit faster.”

• Running back Isaac Bennett, the team's top returning rusher, wore a full-length brace on his injured right knee. Chryst said Bennett's availability is “day to day.” Bennett's injury will allow freshman James Conner to get repetitions with the first team while he battles Malcolm Crockett for the backup job.

• Chryst also said injuries to cornerback Trenton Coles, defensive end Bryan Murphy and kicker Chris Blewitt are minor. All three missed time at practice. After Blewitt hurt his foot in a special-teams drill, he hopped on one foot for nearly half the length of the field.

• Chryst was encouraged by the quick return from injuries by cornerback K'Waun Williams and safety Jason Hendricks, who missed practice Saturday. “There are going to be guys who are fighting through some things, the natural soreness of camp,” he said. “Big picture, guys want to be on the field and know that the best way to get better is by practicing.”

• Linebacker Todd Thomas' absence reached seven days with no word from Chryst on when it might end. Quarterback Tra'Von Chapman remains under indefinite suspension.

• Former Pitt defensive lineman Shayne Hale was hired to coach that position at Gateway High School, his alma mater. He replaces indoor football player Neil Purvis of the Power. Purvis hurt his back and is unable to coach this season.

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