April 22, 2009

Despite upbeat spring, Sherman still has concerns

With just one practice left in spring drills at Texas A&M, the Aggies have been able to increase the speed on defense with an influx of players in better shape from the offseason program, position changes and the newly created jack position. A&M's offense has seen the emergence of a dominant playmaker in receiver Jeff Fuller, quarterback Jerrod Johnson take over the helm as the clear-cut starter and tight end Jamie McCoy build muscle and put on weight during the offseason.

But there were plenty of things the Aggies didn't get to accomplish. A lot of that had to do with injuries as 20 players didn't participate in the Maroon & White game. The major area of concern as to injuries was on the offensive line where the Aggies need a ton of work to improve from last season.

Incumbent starters Lee Grimes and Kevin Matthews didn't participate after offseason surgeries following the 2008 season, but the biggest concern is the injury to Lucas Patterson. Also going through rehab from a 2008 injury, Patterson was moved from the defensive line to offensive tackle where he will most likely start on the left side after not playing offensive since high school. A&M head coach Mike Sherman said he would have loved to have Patterson healthy in the spring and now will only have August camp to throw Patterson into the mix.

"Certainly I think the No. 1 thing we were missing out there is we moved Lucas Patterson over to the offensive line and the inability to get him in there, a former defensive player to learn and experience the offense during the spring. We're banking on the fact that he's going to be able to step in and protect the quarterback's blind side and he had relatively few reps this spring," Sherman said. "We worked him a little bit in the last practice in a non-contact situation going against Von Miller exclusively just to see how he could match up against his quickness. So I would say that and just the continuity that comes with having your whole offense out there and the fact that we had three starters watching most of the practices in that offensive line."

The other major concern is backing up Johnson at quarterback. With sophomore Ryan Tannehill out of contact drills during the spring following shoulder surgery on his throwing shoulder, it was thought that redshirt freshman Tommy Dorman might step up to take the role. If he had, it would have made things much easier for Sherman to move Tannehill back to receiver exclusively where he excelled as a redshirt freshman in 2008.

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