DeKALB – Northern Illinois football took the field at Huskie Stadium Saturday for the team’s first official workout since the spring game in April.
The team practiced with only helmets, and will hold its first padded practice Wednesday.
“I thought the effort was good for the most part,” NIU coach Rod Carey said. “Obviously, it’s different when they’re doing it in the summer compared to when you do it in fall camp. Overall, pretty good day.”
For the first part of camp, NIU will focus on itself before getting into preparation for the season opener Aug. 23 against Presbyterian.
“It’s all about us right now,” Carey said. “We’ll hit a time in camp where we start to turn that page, but we’ll do it gradually. We won’t just all the sudden pop into it. We’ll hit it gradually and work the Presbyterian stuff in after a certain point.”
Other notes from Saturday’s practice:
• A lot has been made of running back Akeem Daniels being back for fall camp, but junior Keith Harris Jr. is fully healthy after suffering an ankle injury last fall and missing spring practice.
NIU has quite the stable of running backs. Redshirt freshman Jordan Huff, who had an impressive spring, got a good amount of reps Saturday.
• One advantage to the Chessick Center is it gives NIU’s punters and kickers a chance to get more work in while Huskie Stadium is being used by the rest of the team, something the group took advantage of Saturday.
“They’ll get a ton more reps in,” Carey said. “That’s just a small example of how that Chessick has made a big difference in our program. Not to mention all the offseason work that all the programs get, us included.”
• The helmets NIU wore were matte, not the regular metallic look the Huskies have showed in the past. So NIU will have a somewhat different look to its normal uniform routine.
The Huskies also will wear the “Dark Dog” uniforms from last year and feature a special Corn Fest uniform.
• One difference between this year’s fall camp and last year’s is the familiarity of the coaching staff. There were a number of new faces last fall, where as this year the only new member of the staff is tight ends/fullbacks coach Craig Harmon.
“It’s good,” Carey said. “Any time you can have that continuity it’s always a good thing.”
• NIU held its second practice of the season at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.