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Pitt spring practices open with uncertainty on offensive line

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt's football team officially opened up spring practices this week. One of the topics mentioned quite a bit already is the uncertainty on the offensive line.

Uncertainty not necessarily meaning concern. Rather, Pitt has some different directions they can go.

Pitt returns four starters from last year, including both tackles (Adam Bisnowaty and Brian O'Neil) as well as both guards (Dorian Johnson and Alex Officer). But with center Artie Rowell departing, the Panthers are trying to figure out what to do there.

The first day of camp brought about a somewhat surprising development in that guard Alex Bookser got the nod as the first-team center. Before you lose your mind at that thought, note that Officer is out of spring practices with an injury. He has played center before and could become the starter there.

Narduzzi seemed to allude to that and also said that with Officer out, they would try several guys at center.

"We're going to work several guys in there, but, right now, [Alex] Bookser is in there with the ones," Narduzzi said. "But we've got a few guys who can work in there. [Alex] Paulina has worked in there before. He's played there before. [Tony] Pilato was a center in high school, [Alex] Galiyas has been in there as well. But we've got plenty of guys that have been in there. But we'll rotate around; we're not just going to stick with one guy."

Speaking about Bookser, he said, "I want to get him in at guard, too. Because he may be the guard when Alex Officer moves back, but it may not be, so we're going to move those guys around and get the ball moving."

Obviously, things are very much in flux at this point. The good news is that Pitt's line has a lot of experience and the only starter lost appears to be Rowell.

Another important factor, of course, is that Pitt gets back tackle Jaryd Jones-Smith, who missed all of last season with a knee injury. That gives them a bit of extra depth in case Bisnowaty needs to be moved to guard (something Narduzzi mentioned to get Jones-Smith onto the field) or if O'Neill needs to be replaced.

Pitt has questions on the line right now, but returns just about all of the key guys from that unit and has some quality depth there.

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