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Starting spot at left guard still open for Pitt

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Monday, Aug. 24, 2009
 

Coach Dave Wannstedt said Pitt's second scrimmage Saturday didn't determine the starter at left guard, but he did allow that senior Joe Thomas has taken a lead over redshirt sophomore Chris Jacobson.

"I would say that physically, they're very, very close," Wannstedt said. "Chris is still making some inexperienced mistakes that Joe has not made. In my mind, they're both starters. They're both capable. If we were playing tonight, Joe Thomas would probably start."

• After rushing for 128 yards and scoring two touchdowns in the scrimmage, freshman Ray Graham has moved ahead of redshirt freshman Chris Burns to become the backup to starting tailback Dion Lewis.

"If we were playing tonight, they would be the two guys that would probably give us the best chance to make plays," Wannstedt said of Lewis and Graham.

• While Wannstedt said redshirt junior Dan Hutchins has won the punting job, the battle between Hutchins and redshirt freshman Kevin Harper for placekicking duties won't be decided until early next week.

"There's no question that Harper's got the strongest leg. If we were attempting any 50-plus field goals, he gives you the best chance to make it because his leg is so strong," Wannstedt said. "But, as we all know, field goal kickers make their money kicking between the 30s and 40s."

• Wannstedt said he isn't sure whether redshirt sophomore defensive end Tony Tucker, who has been excused from the past six days of training camp to deal with "personal issues," will return to the team.

"I don't know if it's going to work out or not," Wannstedt said. "We're trying to help Tony in any way we can. He was definitely welcome back. ... It needs to be resolved here pretty quick."

• Wannstedt said redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Justin Hargrove, who was injured in the scrimmage, had an MRI on Sunday and won't require surgery on his ankle but is "week-to-week." ... Tight end Dorin Dickerson, defensive end Shayne Hale and right tackle Lucas Nix returned to practice, as the Panthers wore only helmets and shorts.

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