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Football Practice Report: Sept. 1

Sep 1, 2021

Venue: Outdoor practice field
Format: Full pads

Chances to audition for starring roles with the Oregon football team for Saturday's opener are becoming fewer and fewer with each passing day.

The Ducks wrapped up consecutive days of padded practices Wednesday morning, and will now lock in to the mental side of preparations for their season opener against Fresno State on Saturday (11 a.m., Pac-12 Network). The team will hold a walk-through on Thursday, followed by "Fast Friday" to cap the practice week.

Much of the Ducks' lineup to open the game has been determined through a month of preseason camp. Notable exceptions include one starting cornerback, the backup quarterback and also Oregon's placekicker.

"It's a battle every day in practice," said one of the contenders for that cornerback spot, Dontae Manning.

Trikweze Bridges is the other main contender at corner. Bridges said the competition has been "fun" but also "very competitive," which means the coaching staff will have a tough choice to make.

"I'm glad they're making it difficult," UO coach Mario Cristobal said. "Because that means they're competing well."

Another of the most competitive spots is at placekicker. Henry Katleman grabbed ahold of that job during the 2020 season, and maintained it through spring drills. But this preseason, veteran Camden Lewis made 37-of-40 attempts in camp, Cristobal said, elbowing his way back into contention.

Katleman hit a 46-yard attempt in a 2-minute drill to close practice Wednesday, performing with the pressure on. But the body of work Lewis put together in August also can't be overlooked.

"If you're going to make competition real, you've gotta make it real," Cristobal said. "You've gotta let it play itself out."

Overall, Cristobal said Wednesday, the Ducks are "where we need to be" at this point in the week. But, he added, "we're still not done."

"We're practicing hard; we're executing at a fairly high level," Cristobal said. "We need to touch up some things, need to clean up some things. But the effort is there. The attention to detail is there."

Other highlights: The 2-minute drill began with the defense getting off the field quickly thanks to the exploits of Kayvon Thibodeaux. Anthony Brown quickly moved the chains in two plays to get the offense across midfield with a fresh set of downs. But on the third play of the drive, Thibodeaux made a big play to force a turnover and win the scenario for the defense. … When the drill was reset, the defense nearly got off the field again after allowing only one first down. But Byron Cardwell helped the offense convert on fourth down, setting up a "game-winning" field goal by Katleman. …

In a period for the defense against scouts, Bridges and Verone McKinley III had interceptions on back-to-back reps. … A later period against scouts was conducted in the red zone, where Dont'e Thornton found the end zone a couple of times for the offense, and Darren Barkins had an interception for the defense.

Other observations: A few Ducks have new numbers, in some cases to avoid taking the field Saturday with a teammate in the same number. QB Ty Thompson is now No. 17, and offensive lineman Jackson Powers-Johnson switched to No. 58. Katleman is now in jersey No. 99. … Among the newcomers to the team who could be in line for special teams jobs Saturday are Jeffrey Bassa in kickoff coverage, and Cardwell with the kickoff return unit.

Post-practice interviews:

Sophomore defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux

Redshirt freshman cornerback Trikweze Bridges

Freshman cornerback Dontae Manning