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Injuries to key players aren't season-ending, Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi says

Jerry DiPaola
| Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, 12:09 p.m.

Pitt continues to practice without several important injured players, but coach Pat Narduzzi said Friday no one has been ruled out for the season.

“Heck, no,” he said when asked if any of the injuries are of the season-ending variety.

Otherwise, he had no updates on why fullback George Aston, cornerback Phillipie Motley, defensive end Dewayne Hendrix and defensive tackle Amir Watts — all starters or potential starters with suspected injuries — are not practicing with their teammates.

“If there's an update, I'm going to give it to you,” he told reporters. “Otherwise, their personal health is their personal health, and I don't talk about injuries.

“If it's an out-for-the-year-type deal, I'm going to tell you.”

Aston, Motley and freshman wide receiver Dontavius Butler-Jenkins were on crutches this week.

Also missing practice for non-injury related reasons were safety Jordan Whitehead and wide receiver Aaron Mathews.

Finding his niche

Redshirt freshman defensive end Rashad Weaver (6-foot-5, 265 pounds) is making progress, but to be sure, he asked coaches this question:

“Do I look out of place when I'm running on the field?”

“They said, ‘No, it looks like (you're) meant to be there.' ”

Part of that is Weaver, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., resident, getting accustomed to the speed of the game. Plus, he said he tries to live right.“Off-the-field decisions,” he said. “Whether that's not going out … or, instead of eating something that is going to mess you up the next day in practice, eating a healthy meal.”

Getting enough sleep is also important, he said.

“Not staying up all night, whether it's playing video games with a girl or (going) out. Things that better you for the next day at practice.”

Almost like gameday

Players intended to get to bed early Friday night because Narduzzi said he will conclude the second week of his four-week training camp Saturday with a closed scrimmage at Heinz Field.

“It probably will be the biggest scrimmage of the year, and I'll probably say the next one is the biggest one because it's the next one,” he said. “It's a big scrimmage to find out where we are.”

Lighter Friday

Narduzzi said he planned to prepare his team for a rigorous scrimmage by conducting a lighter practice Friday. Players wore spider pads, and Narduzzi said there would “a lot less contact.”

“Hopefully, they're mature enough to handle those (pads),” he said. “Sometimes, different teams, especially a young football team, thinks that it's going to be a day off. There are no days off during camp. We're trying to freshen them up today for a big day (Saturday).”

Narduzzi did correct himself by saying Sunday is usually a day off for the players in camp.

It's just August

The alignment along the offensive line remains different than what it probably will be after the first game of the season.

Left tackle Brian O'Neill is limited while he recovers from a spring shoulder injury, and right guard Alex Bookser, suspended for the opener only, has been replaced on the first team by Mike Herndon. The tackles are Jaryd Jones-Smith on the left and Brandon Hodges on the right, with Alex Officer at left guard. For now, center is a battle between Connor Dintino and walk-on Jimmy Morrissey, who was getting reps with the first team early in Friday's practice.

Bookser, who started every game last season, was with the second team, but he has not backed off his typical practice regimen. After the whistle ended one drill, he continued running until he reached the end zone.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

Pitt's George Aston celebrates his first-quarter touchdown against Marshall on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt's George Aston celebrates his first-quarter touchdown against Marshall on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, at Heinz Field.
Pitt defensive lineman Dewayne Hendrix, a Tennessee transfer, is expected to make a big impact this season.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt defensive lineman Dewayne Hendrix, a Tennessee transfer, is expected to make a big impact this season.
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