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Tuesday practice report

Defense ahead of offense, Edem to LB

In what has become the most intense drill at practice, the Northern Illinois defense against the NIU offense in the 4-yard drill, the defense is starting a little winning streak. For an explanation on the drill, check out yesterday's post here.

The No. 1 and No. 2 defense had little trouble dispatching the No. 1 and No. 2 offense, winning 6-1. The defensive line got good pressure on quarterbacks Chandler Harnish and DeMarcus Grady to force a combined three incomplete passes.

"I think they had the upper hand," NIU coach Jerry Kill said. "Camp usually goes back-and-forth so you never have the whole coaching staff completely happy. But the big thing is you go back and watch the film and the most important thing is to try and find some players that maybe you didn't know something about and find the ones that are progressing."

When the rookies got their turn, it was the same result for the young members of the defense as they notched a 6-1 victory. Defensive end Anthony Wells made a great move sack quarterback A.J. Hill. A pass from Jordan Lynch to Daniel Rodriguez for 10 yards was the only point for the rookie offense.

It's probably expected that the defense is ahead of the offense at this point. I think you'll find that to be true at most camps after six practices.

On the move: Redshirt freshman tight end Dan Edem is now redshirt freshman linebacker Dan Edem.

"I don't know if it's permanent but it's permanent for the next few days," Kill said.

I think this move, whether it's temporary or permanent, speaks a little to the confidence the coaching staff has in tight ends Reed Cunningham, Jason Schepler, Nick Groeniger and Bryan Beckner that they can move Edem.

Sophomore wide receiver Nate Palmer (knee) and junior cornerback Donald Smith (knee) are out of practice for about two weeks, Kill said. Smith hurt his left knee during Monday's practice. Palmer could be back to action in a week. Kill said he doesn't expect that either player will miss the season-opening game at Wisconsin.

Practice highlights:

NIU did a drill this morning I haven't seen before, one that worked on the hitting that comes with kickoff returns and coverage. Players gathered around to watch the intense smacks as a couple of players at a time lined up to either block or try and tackle the returner.

By the end of it, Groeniger, freshman linebacker Tyrone Clark and walk-on freshman running back Barrington Scott were lauded by the coaches for how they did in the drill. Also, Scott's nickname is "Pooh Bear." It's still unknown why, though.

Give credit to defensive end Darnell Bolding for learning quickly. After over-pursuing on a play early in 11-on-11 play, he waited patiently and stopped a screen for a loss.

Linebacker Victor Jacques had one of his strongest practices, causing Ricky Crider to fumble in 1-on-1 drills and creating havoc in scrimmage play.

Do you remember our coverage of National Signing Day, when freshman wide receiver Perez Ashford's high school coach said that in three years Ashford had dropped only two passes? That reputation seems pretty accurate so far. 

Defensive end Jake Coffman has pretty much gone wherever he's wanted through six practices. It's still too early to tell if that means great things about Coffman or poor things about the offensive linemen he's going up against.

Offensive tackle Adam Kiel did a remarkable job picking up a David Bryant blitz just before a snap. That was the quickest I've seen Kiel move.

A group of referees showed up for the first time in this year's camp as well.

"They take enough pride in what they do," Kill said. "They want to do good. So they're out here learning. I give them their kudos for doing it."

Quotable: "We're going to be good on defense. I'm going to make sure of that." – Kill

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