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Notre Dame Football

Key skill players return for Notre Dame offense, OL group consistent

August 24, 2021

Despite perhaps the hottest weather of preseason camp – with temperatures in the mid-90s and a heat index of 105 Tuesday afternoon – as well as the absence of offensive coordinator Tommy Rees as he recovers from an emergency appendectomy, Notre Dame was fairly crisp in both special teams and offensive drills.

Rees had surgery late Monday night, was discharged and expected to return Wednesday to the practice field for Notre Dame.

Working first inside the Irish Athletics Center and then shifting outside, the Irish saw wideouts Lawrence Keys III and Joe Wilkins Jr. return to full participation during the portion open to media. Right tackle Josh Lugg also was back in his spot on the right flank of the offensive line.

Ryan Barnes also returned for the defense in the secondary.

Only notably not participating on the offensive side of the ball was Braden Lenzy, though he was dressed in his uniform without pads and closely observing the offensive work.

One notable observation early in pre-practice warmups was Marcus Freeman and freshman tailback Audric Estime. As Freeman greeted players on both sides of the ball and walked the lines of practice, he got to Estime and tried to force Estime to fumble the ball he was securing throughout the warmups.

It showed both Freeman's ability to relate with players on both sides of the ball and likewise showed Estime's focus on ball security.

Jack Coan continued to be sharp in pass skeleton, and particularly had a nice, well-placed sideline-throw to Kevin Austin Jr. – who caught the ball in the best spot Coan could deliver and toe-tapped the sideline. Wasn't in any kind of team drills or 7-on-7s but showed good zip from Coan and concentration from Austin. Logan Diggs had a rare drop on a sideline route out of the backfield from Coan, and Coan stepped up and performed the drill again rather than cycle out after a dropped pass.

The offensive line that worked with Coan once again was, from left to right, Blake Fisher, Zeke Correll, Jarrett Patterson, Cain Madden and Lugg. It would be a considerable upset at this point if that isn't the Fighting Irish's starting unit to open the season Sept. 5 at Florida State.

Skill players who repped with Coan included Austin, Avery Davis, Michael Mayer, George Takacs, Chris Tyree, Kyren Williams and Wilkins, as both running backs coach Lance Taylor and head coach Brian Kelly worked closely with the unit.

The second-team OL consisted of Michael Carmody, John Dirksen, Andrew Kristofic, Rocco Spindler and Tosh Baker.

The skill players who worked with backup Drew Pyne were C'Bo Flemister, Estime, Mitchell Evans, Keys III, Lorenzo Styles Jr., Deion Colzie and Kevin Baumann.

Notre Dame continues to have extremely quality depth at the tight end position, with Takacs flashing a little better in the limited viewing today and all tight ends really pretty sharp.

Even at third team, Joe Alt continues to stand out on the right side – physically and with his development.

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