Duke Now

Defense early, offense late for Blue Devils

DURHAM — Duke held its first full-contact practice and situational scrimmage Saturday at Wade Stadium, and the edge went to the defense, Blue Devils coach David Cutcliffe said.

“They were very aggressive,” Cutcliffe said. “They took the ball away and created better pressure on the quarterback than we’ve had. They played with a little more confidence. That secondary is very confident and experienced.”

Quarterback Thomas Sirk was held out of the team work, Cutcliffe said. Sirk ruptured his left Achilles tendon in February but has been able to go through individual drills in the first week of practice.

Cutcliffe said the Blue Devils did run the ball well late in the scrimmage. Shaun Wilson, Jela Duncan and Joseph Ajeigbe all did their part, and Cutcliffe said he liked the look of freshman Brittain Brown.

“It felt pretty good,” Wilson said. “It always feels pretty good to put on the pads the first day.

“We started pretty slow but we picked it up. We sat the team down on the sideline and just talked and said we’ve got to pick it up. We had a few turnovers at the beginning but we picked it up toward the end and began running it effectively.”

Brown, from Canton, Ga., had an early fumble in the scrimmage but didn’t let it deflate him, Sirk said.

“He’s got the mentality he’s going to learn from that fumble,” Sirk said. “He came to the sideline and he was a little mad about it and I said, ‘Hey, you’ve just got to jump back in there and let it go. You’ll learn to have better ball security.’ He’s so explosive. He can break away from people.”

Cutcliffe said cornerback Bryon Fields — returning from an ACL injury that kept him out all of last season — has had a good first week of practice, to the point DeVon Edwards may be moved to rover.

Cutcliffe said Austin Parker punted well and and A.J. Reed had a flawless night kicking in his first night under the lights in Wade Stadium.

Defensive end Dominic McDonald missed practice with a hamstring injury. Defensive tackle Quaven Ferguson was able to get in some contact work, the coach said.