Obviously, the return of James Conner was the feature of the first day of Pitt's football training camp. But in reviewing the notes from Day 1, the other big thing appeared to be talk of the key position battles.
Most notably, to me, is what Pitt is doing with linebacker. The preseason depth chart listed Elijah Zeise and Oluwaseun Idowu battling it out at the Star position - two guys without much experience. Meanwhile, senior Bam Bradley was listed at the Money spot behind Mike Caprara. As I mentioned in that article, Pitt could try to move Bradley there to potentially get him the starting spot there and that looks like that's what's happening. Narduzzi confirmed that Bradley has moved there and talked a little about the change and how different it would be for Bam:
“Not much difference. You saw a snapshot of what he looked like before spring ball or after spring ball to what he looks like now. I’m interested to see. I saw him make some plays out there, and I saw him do some fundamental things. He’s a good football player. He changed his body a little bit. Fundamentally it should not be different. Skill-wise, does he have the skill set to go out there? That’s what we’re going to have to determine here quickly.”
I think that's the best move. It doesn't make much sense to play Bradley behind an experienced linebacker when Pitt has so much inexperience at the other spot. The coaches seem very high on Zeise so there's room for him to learn a little bit this year, assuming Bam gets the first crack at the starting job.
The other position battles Narduzzi spoke about a little were safety (Terrish Webb/Reggie Mitchell) as well as the offensive line and running back. There wasn't much talk there and this was more or less just about confirming the competition:
“I think there’s competition at the defensive end spot. A year ago there wasn’t a whole lot of competition there, but I think there’s competition there [now]. There’s competition for the corner spot. You look at the field safety spot with ‘T’ [Terrish] Webb and Reggie [Mitchell], we’re still trying to find out. They’re both good players. It’s kind of fun as a coach to say, ‘Both of those guys are starters really, but who’s going to be that guy to take the first snap there?’ Offensively, there’s a lot of receivers out there that have talent. I think there’s going to be constant competition all the way up until September 3 at that spot. They’re fighting for those O-line spots. There’s only five—two guards, two tackles, and a center—but everybody knows we’ve got a little bit of depth on the offensive line, so there’s competition there. There’s competition just about everywhere. Running back has competition. We’ve got some talent out there, but we’re going to find out who can stay healthy, who can mentally stay in the game and who physically can do the job.”
Training camp continues tomorrow.