Tuesday media day/practice notes

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Northern Illinois tight end Jason Schepler will start preseason practice with some extra rest. NIU coach Dave Doeren said Schepler is currently receiving every other day off from practice as he recovers from a torn ACL suffered in the spring of 2011.

Doeren said Wisconsin used the same plan with current Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas going into 2006, Thomas' senior year. Doeren was a Badgers assistant that season.

The second-year Huskies coach said Schepler is cleared to play. Doeren just wants to make sure the Sycamore alumnus is fully healthy for the season opener against Iowa on Sept. 1.

"I can practice him every day if I wanted to, but I think I know I'd like to have Jason playing for us this year more than I'd like to have him playing in two-a-days," Doeren said at NIU's annual DeKalb media day. "It's more of a way for him to have the reps required where you don't end up with tendinitis."

Doeren said he's excited about the tight end group as a whole, saying Schepler and sophomores Luke Eakes and Tim Semisch will present challenges for defenses.

Here are a few more notes and observations from media day and the Huskies' second practice of the year:

• Tailback figures to be one of the more talked about positions during camp and one of the tougher battles. Doeren said junior Akeem Daniels is the most dependable back right now and that the staff trusts him the most. He added that Daniels is the most versatile back and will spend most of the time with the first unit. Daniels, Leighton Settle and Jamal Womble are all currently listed at the top of the depth chart.

• Doeren thought backup quarterback Matt McIntosh had a great first day of practice. He said freshmen Drew Hare and Matt Williams could compete with McIntosh for the backup spot. Doeren said he wouldn't be surprised one of the freshmen ended up traveling as an emergency quarterback.

• The offensive line is considered a question mark by many because of the lack of experience, but Doeren doesn't seem too concerned. He said he's comfortable with the depth and talent there.

• The Huskies' starting quarterback, Jordan Lynch, looked good throwing the ball in practice. A lot of sharp, crisp passes.

• Tommylee Lewis is expected to see more time at receiver this season. He made a leaping catch over the middle during drills and had a nice diving catch in 7-on-7.

• After two days of practicing with just helmets, the team will put on shoulder pads for Wednesday's practice. The first full-pad workout is Friday.

– Steve Nitz, snitz@shawmedia.com, @SNitz_DDC on Twitter


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