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(Rick Hickman/American Press)

Puttin' on the hits

Last Modified: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 9:55 AM

By Alex Hickey / American Press

Tuesday afternoon was the first visible semblance of real football for McNeese State this season, in more ways than one.

Players were geared up in full pads for the first time this August. And they took their practice to the turf at Cowboy Stadium for the first time.

“We’ve been practicing hard in shells, so it’s not much of a difference,” said offensive lineman Antoine Everett. “But it is nice to be on the game field. And not having to run as far (from the locker room).”

There are other signs of football, too — most notably, attrition due to injuries.

So far nothing has happened to give coaches or fans reason for a panic attack, but a number of Cowboys were sidelined on Tuesday, including all-conference defensive end Everett Ellefsen. Ellefsen has been out since getting dinged up in Saturday’s practice.

Plenty of other players had to get taped up during Tuesday’s session.

“So far it’s nothing serious, which is good,” said head coach Matt Viator. “Every day you have your typical bumps and bruises. That’s kind of part of it.”

Veterans like defensive tackle Kevin Dorn know that’s just the way training camp goes. Dorn was back on the field after he sat out the previous day getting back to full health.

“Everybody on the D-Line’s a little banged up, but that’s the fun of camp day in and day out,” Dorn said. “Every camp you just learn from. If anything’s banged up, you go to treatment at night icing your stuff down. Get in the ice tub after practice. This is camp, so the little things matter.”

Dorn said the physicality level doesn’t change any when a team goes from a shoulder-pad shell to full pads. But it does serve as an important mental indicator that the season is that much closer.

“Every day we’re marking the X’s (on the calendar),” Dorn said. “The first full day of pads means we are closer. That got everybody up a little bit for the day.”

As is the case before the first scrimmage, it’s hard to get a cohesive picture of wear the team stands as a whole. However, there are occasional snapshots that stick out.

Even though the defense usually has a natural edge in making plays before the offense is fully installed, Viator said he’s been impressed by the overall speed he’s seen on that side of the ball.

“I’m really encouraged by that,” Viator said. “Our overall team speed seems better on that side of the ball. Hopefully we can build on that.”

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