Created:Thursday, August 4, 2011 7:01 p.m.CST

First NIU practice: Reporter's notebook

Devon Butler started practice flapping his arms and doing his bird call on the sidelines. He seemed in high spirits, and even did some light stretching during warmups, though don't look too far into that. He's still redshirting. But it was good to see, nonetheless.

NIU only had two quarterbacks this spring. They had five Thursday afternoon. Behind starter Chandler Harnish and backup Jordan Lynch, freshman Matt McIntosh had his first practce. Walk-ons Devin Rose and Sean Strehl were also wearing black jerseys. Makes for some crowded position meetings with offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Matt Canada.

Doeren on receiving four votes in the USA Today preseason coaches poll: "It's where we finish more than where we start that matters, obviously. It's nice to get respect from anybody, and we appreciate anything that people will do or say about us. But at the end of the day it's more where we end up than where we start."

DT Anthony Wells has put on the weight. He looks bigger than in the spring. Much bigger. Wells was lined up next to Nabal Jefferson on the first team defense. Doeren seems pretty excited about his potential.

First team tight ends were Jack Marks and Luke Eakes. Cameron Bell got second-team reps. Of course, it's early.

Don't look too far into it after just one day, but Victor Jacques got the bulk of first team reps at strong side linebacker. Jamaal Bass also got some first team reps. Again, it's early, and the position battle is far from decided.

As of right now, Cameron Stingily is backing up Pat Schiller at middle linebacker. Mike Hellams got reps behind Stingily.

Freshman Tommylee Lewis took a reverse handoff from Chandler Harnish and made enough plays with the young guys to receive compliments from Doeren. Fellow freshman Jason Meehan, a middle linebacker, seemed to also have a good practice, getting compliments from linebackers coach Tom Matukewicz.

– Ryan Wood,

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