Camp Rantoul: Brown limited in morning practice (W/videos)

Camp Rantoul: Brown limited in morning practice (W/videos)

RANTOUL — Jonathan Brown didn't have a purple jersey on to indicate he was injured.

Or a green one worn so players should know to avoid contact with said player.

The starting linebacker sported a white No. 45 jersey, shoulder pads and orange shorts, much like the rest of the Illinois defense Monday morning.

But the senior didn't take part in any hitting activity during the first practice at Camp Rantoul.

He did go through the paces in some situational drills with the linebackers.

No need to panic, Illinois coach Tim Beckman said.

"We're just kind of working with Jonathan knowing that he's had his reps and been involved with football for a long time," Beckman said. "We're just making sure everything is good with the shoulder."

Brown — who missed the final three games last season with a shoulder injury — is expected to play in tonight's scrimmage at Camp Rantoul.

The scrimmage will start at approximately 5:30 p.m. and take place on Field 2 at Camp Rantoul, with bleachers expected to be set up in both end zones for fans.

Beckman said the first half of practice will focus on different drills for fans to see before it turns into a full-throttle scrimmage.

"We've got to work on the fundamentals," Beckman said. "Show me that we can make open field tackles. Show me that we can catch the football. Show me we can protect the football."

***
Getting enough repetitions for true freshmen like cornerbacks Jaylen Dunlap and Darius Mosely is a focus for Beckman.

During parts of Monday's practice, the two Class of 2013 signees worked in with the starters.

"Right now, just because of the youth again, we're playing with some young guys," Beckman said. "We'll have some corners out there, and they'll be freshmen."

Beckman praised Dunlap's efforts last week during the first week of practice in Champaign.

He did so again after watching the Crete-Monee product practice Monday morning.

"This proves the way he's been practicing," Beckman said. "He's been practicing extremely hard. He's been very well-coached, and he was able to come in here, worked hard this summer and got himself ready for camp. He's proven within eight days that he's a pretty good football player."

***
Bill Cubit has experienced training camp in a similar format before.

But it has been awhile for the first-year Illinois offensive coordinator.

His lone season at Missouri in 2000 produced a setup like Camp Rantoul when the Tigers practiced at Missouri Military Academy in Mexico, Mo.

"It was a nice experience," Cubit said. "It was something I thought the kids really bonded together, but you get a lot done in practice and in films. For me personally, you're not driving into work and you're not driving back home. You're just there all the time, which is a really neat situation for me."

***
Cubit wasn't particularly impressed with the play of the Illinois quarterbacks on Monday morning.

"I didn't think they played really well," he said. "There was some high pressure at the end, which I think we've got to react to them a lot better. We've got to get the wideouts having a little more sense of urgency."

Cubit said he was pleased with backup Reilly O'Toole early on in practice.

Starter Nathan Scheelhaase, O'Toole and freshman Aaron Bailey took most of the repetitions when Illinois went through game-like situations later in the morning session.

Scheelhaase and O'Toole had nearly the same number of reps, with Bailey handling fewer snaps.

"What you don't want to do is get him really frustrated," Cubit said of Bailey. "You try and make those reps successful for him, so he can feel more comfortable. We've always done that with a freshman."

Cubit is anxious to see how his quarterbacks handle a scrimmage environment this evening at Camp Rantoul.

"When things are flying all over the place, we'll see how they react," Cubit said. "What our quarterbacks have got to see is we've got it all picked up. Just be calm. Everything's going to work out, and the wideouts have to go win routes."

***
Family is a big point of emphasis when it comes to Beckman.

He noted it on Sunday when the Illinois coaches and their families were brought together for a photo in the Memorial Stadium stands during the team's Media Day.

Beckman's father, Dave, was a presence on the first day of Camp Rantoul in 2012.

He's set to watch practice on Tuesday afternoon when Illinois goes from 4:15-6:15 p.m.

"My dad will be here giving me an earful," Beckman joked. "We're excited about it. I love Rantoul."

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