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Pitt notebook: Bennett tests shoulder during handoff drills

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Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, 6:48 p.m.

Senior running back Isaac Bennett had his most physical practice of the summer Monday while he continues to recover from shoulder surgery.

He participated in inside handoff drills, in which running backs go between the tackles and into heavy traffic. He also landed on his right (non-surgical) shoulder while reaching unsuccessfully for an errant pass.

Coach Paul Chryst said he won't rush Thomas back into full participation.

“We are going to go slow on him,” Chryst said. “He knows the playbook. He does a good job, when he's not getting the reps, of staying on top of it.

“He has put himself in a position where you can be a little bit more cautious.”

Injury update

Linebackers Todd Thomas (knee) and Zach Poker, defensive tackles K.K. Mosley-Smith and Tyrique Jarrett, and wide receiver Adonis Jennings (groin) were nursing minor injuries during practice.

“Nothing long-term,” Chryst said.

Chryst is scheduled to conduct his first scrimmage of the summer Tuesday after holding two-a-day sessions Saturday and Monday.

Chryst said preparations for the Aug. 30 opener against Delaware won't begin until the latter part of next week.

Blair's weight gain

Freshman defensive end Rori Blair, who is the No. 1 backup to senior defensive end David Durham, said one of the most difficult parts of transitioning from high school is “being so light on the line. (I am) the skinniest person playing D-end.”

He is listed at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds after gaining 10 since spring drills. Blair graduated early from Upper St. Clair and enrolled in January.

“In the spring, I didn't know the plays a lot. I got beat up a lot,” he said. “Now, I know the plays. Since I know the plays, I'm like another person.”

Blair said he is trying to gain weight by eating.

“A lot of meat, steaks, burritos, Qdoba,” he said.

Recruiting update

Outside linebacker Jamir Jones of Aquinas Academy in Rochester, N.Y., visited practice Monday. He is a brother of Notre Dame defensive lineman Jarron Jones.

Pitt has 12 verbal commitments in its Class of 2015. With only 11 seniors on the roster, Pitt will finish with far fewer recruits than the 27 and 23 they signed in 2013 and '14.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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