The usual bumps and bruises of training camp are starting to take a toll on Pitt as the Panthers practiced yesterday without several key players.
But the good news is that after four practices in pads, the Panthers -- knock on wood -- haven't suffered any major injuries or lost any key players for an extended period.
"It has just been bumps and bruises, nothing a situation where [we are concerned]," Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. "As long as there is nothing major. If there were any ACL injuries or shoulder [surgeries] then we'd talk about it, but this type of stuff is going to be there every day and it is all a part of camp."
Yesterday the Panthers were without offensive tackle Lucas Nix (leg infection), safeties Elijah Fields (foot contusion) and Irvan Brown (calf), wide receiver Mike Shanahan (hand), tight ends Nate Byham (headache) and Dorin Dickerson (hamstring), and defensive tackles Myles Caragein (ankle) and Tyler Tkach (foot).
All of them are day to day, as is the status of reserve tight end Mike Cruz, who was excused for the third consecutive day for personal reasons.
"Mike came over and we talked today," Wannstedt said. "He had some personal issues at home and I feel very confident that he will be back with us tomorrow."
Redshirt freshman quarterback Tino Sunseri and junior Pat Bostick had another solid day while starter Bill Stull struggled again.
The practice ended with all three running the two-minute drill. Bostick and Sunseri led touchdown drives, Stull's drive ended when his pass was picked off by Ricky Gary.
Wannstedt again did his best to deflect questions about the quarterback competition but did say that the scrimmage scheduled for this afternoon will be an important test for all of them.
"[Tino] is having a good camp but so is Pat Bostick and Bill Stull," Wannstedt said. "We're evaluating them every day, but things are status quo. It is the first week into it, we haven't even had a live scrimmage yet. Tomorrow will separate a lot when we turn everyone loose.
"But Tino is making a progress and he is getting better. I'm very encouraged with where he is at."
In Nix's absence, redshirt sophomore Greg Gaskins moved from left tackle to right tackle and filled in admirably considering the competition he's facing. ...The scrimmage today will be complete with officials. "We are going to put some pressure on them from a mental standpoint and a physical standpoint," Wannstedt said. ... Pitt junior defensive end Greg Romeus has been named a preseason candidate for the 2009 Chuck Bednarik Award, annually presented to the nation's top defensive player by the Maxwell Football Club. ...Freshman middle linebacker Dan Mason (Penn Hills) has put himself in position to win the backup spot but Wannstedt said he still has a lot to learn. "He continues to show us he will be an outstanding player for us. Physically he is ready to play but every day is a new learning experience for him. I could see him getting playing time."
Paul Zeise can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1720. First Published August 18, 2009 4:00 AM