A week ago, an observer to Arizona State football practice couldn't help but notice how easily the offense picked apart the Sun Devil defense through the air. The secondary was shaky as they adjusted to life without their vocal leader and star player, Omar Bolden.
Now, the story is a bit different. Brock Osweiler was still able to complete passes out of the spread offense but those that connected were contested (with limited hitting allowed) and many were batted down. Coach Dennis Erickson was impressed with the improvement in his secondary as well and singled out cornerback Irabor Osahon and converted safety Alden Darby for extra praise.
Bolden was a very active and vocal sideline participant in the practice. He had a brace on his left knee which didn't stop him from making a diving catch on a ball that sailed his way. He hopped back up with both the ball and smile.
Erickson was also pleased with the way the linebackers have filled in for injured teammates. "In football, that's what happens," he explained but, "That can be just talk, but they're doing it too."
Colin Parker got the reps at outside linebacker with the starting unit along with Shelly Lyons and Vontaze Burfict. Backing them up were Anthony Jones, Kipeli Koniseti, and Isreal Marshall.
Jones left practice at one point with a knee injury that initially looked bad but he apparently was only kicked in the leg and returned to practice after receiving treatment.
The first unit secondary included Osahon and Darby on the corners and Eddie Elder and Clint Floyd as safeties. Backing them up were Devan Spann and Rashad Wadood at corner and Keelan Johnson and Ezekiel Bishop at safety.
The Sun Devils will have a light practice on Friday and then a public scrimmage at Tempe Stadium on Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m.
Running back Cameron Marshall and receiver Jamal Miles were back on the field after missing some practice time earlier in the week. Receiver Gerell Robinson was not. He's expected to be ready for the opening game. Cornerback Deveron Carr also sat out.