March 11, 2007

OU's Patton counting his options at left tackle

With Sooner basketball winding down and spring practices starting back up, the focus shifts back to the gridiron for the next couple of months as spring football and the NFL draft take front stage later this week.

Oklahoma will hold their first scrimmage of the spring on Wednesday while Pro Day arrives in Norman on Tuesday. Editor Carey Murdock caught up with James Patton to get his take on the offensive line during spring practices and how things are shaping up in the race to replace Chris Messner at left tackle. Bob Stoops told us earlier that Branndon Braxton would be back practicing for the spring. Could you tell us what that means for you as the offensive line coach to have him back in the mix as you try and fill that left tackle spot this spring?
James Patton:
He's worked hard and rehabbed that broken leg, or broken ankle, and he's full strength coming back in. I think it will be more of a confidence issue with him getting back in there. Any time a guy goes through a broken leg or a torn knee ligament, it's just about the physical play and getting back out there mentally and being confident that you can play on it.

He's been doing good and I'm looking forward to him getting back out there this spring and getting on the field. You lose Chris Messner and you basically just tell four guys that the spot is open and the best one gets it?
Yeah. It will be - competition, and I've said this many times, competition is a great motivator. With having the big guy, Phil Loadholt, that came in at semester and Cory Brandon, who played a little bit last year and got hurt - with Trent Williams and Braxton at the tackle position and Duke Robinson who could always bump out and play there last year - it's going to be a good battle.

I'm looking forward to it.

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