Northern Illinois conducted its first spring practice on Wednesday at a sunny and windy Huskie Stadium. The Huskies were without pads and it was a pretty typical first practice. Here are a few notes and observations.
NIU second-year coach Dave Doeren said this year's first spring practice was smoother than last season's. Players know what to expect from him and the other coaches.
"To be out here and really watch guys as opposed to just evaluate, it was a lot easier day from me from that standpoint," Doeren said.
Doeren also addressed the team's expectations and how success can affect a team.
"You always have the concern when you're coming off an 11-win season that you think you've arrived," Doeren said. "But for these, this is their second straight, so they know that they're going to be a bulls-eye on a lot of people's schedules already. We talk a lot about, we've got to be our best because everyone's going to give us theirs because of what we did the year before."
A few observations: The defense looked real solid for a first practice, including Devon Butler in his first full practice since last April. Tyrone Clark looked like he hasn't lost a step, either.
Rashaan Melvin made several athletic plays.
Junior defensive lineman Ken Bishop (6-foot-1, 308 pounds) looked pretty agile out of pads, something to keep an eye on as the spring progresses.
Pick up Thursday's Daily Chronicle for a story on Butler and NIU's offensive line.
Quotable: "We're not in pads yet, so we really don't know how good we are yet." – Doeren on the first day.
One last note: Linebacker Jamaal Bass did practice and will not be available for comment. He is due next in court in Lucas County for his assault charges on April 25.