Wolfpack gets reinforcements
RALEIGH N.C. State linebacker Robert Caldwell and defensive tackle A.J. Ferguson were cleared to practice Wednesday.
The Wolfpack is still waiting on running back Mustafa Greene.
Caldwell, a junior college transfer, practiced for the first time Wednesday. He had been held out while the school waited for clearance from the NCAAs Eligibility Center.
Ferguson and Greene had missed the first week of practice with academic issues.
Fergusons grades have posted, Mustafas havent yet, OBrien said. Theyve been able to work out because theyre still eligible. Thats where we are right now.
Greene missed the entire 2011 season with a foot injury. The teams leading rusher as a true freshman in 2010, Greene missed most of spring practice due to disciplinary issues.
Ferguson, a reserve defensive tackle, missed two games with a knee injury in 2011 and finished with a sack and seven tackles in seven games.
With three new starters at linebacker, and sophomore Michael Peek out for the season with a knee injury, the Wolfpack needs to get Caldwell acclimated as soon as possible.
Thats one of the spots that we can ill afford to have an injury, OBrien said.
Defending the homeland
DURHAM While the overall theme of Dukes preseason camp is Make plays that win games, the defense has added another wrinkle to that idea.
Were selling to them the idea of being our homeland security, third-year defensive coordinator Jim Knowles said. Were here to protect our end zone. We know as a defense that Duke football will not be great unless we have a defense that steps up and takes a lot of pride in not letting people score. People are going to make plays, but we need to keep our end zone secure.
Last year, the Blue Devils were 11th in the ACC teams in both scoring and total defense, giving up an average of 425 yards and 31.2 points per game.
This years group, which returns eight starters and converted wide receiver Brandon Braxton at safety, is focused improving on third down in particular after allowing opponents to convert 43 percent of the time.
The unit is poised to receive a big boost in that area with the return of defensive end Kenny Anunike, The 6-foot-5, 260-pound Anunike led the ACC with four sacks last year at the time of his season-ending injury in the fourth game of the season. Knowles estimated Anunike is at about 90 percent after missing the entire spring.
Hes that psycho guy you need coming off the edge, Knowles said. In todays game, you watch any football, the things that can change the game from a defensive perspective are the guys up front that can really attack the quarterback.
Fedora shuffling his lines
CHAPEL HILL Tim Jackson has played defensive end throughout time at North Carolina, but he is one of several linemen who, under first-year coach Larry Fedora, are spending some time at new positions early in preseason practice.
In addition to practicing at his normal position, Jackson has received some work on the interior of the defensive line, at defensive tackle. Its not a position switch so much as it is a learning experience, Fedora said.
Were looking at some different people in different places right now, Fedora said. So Tims one guy that wed like to see what he can do inside. So it would be nice if he can learn both spots so we can bounce him in and out depending on where we are depth-wise through the year.
Fedora has repeatedly expressed concerns about depth, especially along the offensive and defensive lines. On the offensive line, multiple players are receiving work at multiple positions, too.
Weve got guys playing almost every position, you know, except center, Fedora said. And so, a couple of our guards are getting some work at center, and its the same thing. Were just trying to build depth throughout those positions, because youve got to be prepared.