Wednesday practice notes

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Northern Illinois completed its third preseason practice Wednesday afternoon, this time in shoulder pads, so the team was able to do some hitting.

There was a steady rain throughout practice that got heavy towards the end, but NIU was still able to practice for the usual 24 five-minute periods.

Here are some notes and observations:

• Given NIU coach Dave Doeren's comments at Tuesday's media day, this isn't a surprise, but junior running back Akeem Daniels has been the feature back with the first team. Right now, the tailback job looks like it's Daniels' to lose.

• Jamaal Bass and Tyrone Clark had solid days at linebacker. Bass made some plays while Clark was able to deflect a pass.

• Linebackers Michael Santacaterina, Boomer Mays and Bobby Winkel took reps with the second team. Santacaterina spent some time in the backfield while Winkel had an interception.

• One more linebacker note. A reader tweeted me the other day (and you can do that @HuskieWire or @SNitz_DDC) asking where true freshman Mike Cotton was playing. He's been on the outside. The 6-1, 224-pounder took reps with the freshmen.

• I mentioned Tommylee Lewis on Tuesday, and he had two nice sideline catches Wednesday. He did drop a pass over the middle in 7-on-7.

• Sophomore free safety Dechane Durante broke up two passes.

• The Huskies are back at it Thursday at 3:15 p.m., the last practice before the team puts on full pads.

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

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Will the NIU football team play for the MAC title this year?
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Too soon to tell