Duke football notes: Deaver out
Updated Duke football notes from Monday’s first day of practice.
Blakeney in a new place – Duke is using senior wide receiver Issac Blakeney at an outside receiver position rather than the slot position he’s normally occupied.
The idea is to create more opportunities for the 6-6 Blakeney to use his physical tools.
“I think he’s a mismatch guy,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “We know that he ran track for us and he’s trimmed himself to probably 225 and he’s 6-6. He creates a mismatch problem more so outside than he does inside.”
While Monday’s first practice wasn’t in full pads, Cutcliffe came away encouraged with his first look at Blakeney in that role.
“I liked the way it looked today,” Cutcliffe said.
Blakeney said he plans to take advantage of playing opposite all-ACC receiver Jamison Crowder, who will certainly draw double-teams this season.
Duke has Max McCaffrey, known as the best route-runner on the team, at the inside receiver position.
Deaver out -- Without using the word suspension, Cutcliffe said Monday that redshirt senior tight end Braxton Deaver is not working with the team and hasn’t been during the summer.
A starter who was named third-team all-ACC last season, Deaver isn’t expected to rejoin the Blue Devils until this Saturday.
“Braxton is not going to join us until Aug. 9 (Saturday),” Cutcliffe said. “He’s doing a few things to satisfy me, which I expect to be done in a timely manner. He should be finished with those things and ready to go and in great spirits and attitude by Aug. 9. I’m looking forward to that for him.”
Deaver, from Charlotte’s Providence High School, started all 14 games for Duke last season. He caught 46 passes for 600 yards and four touchdowns.
In the 52-48 loss to Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, Deaver caught six passes for 116 yards.
Deaver is expected to be part of a core group of experienced returning players on offense that also includes fellow seniors Anthony Boone (quarterback), Jamison Crowder (wide receiver), Issac Blakeney (wide receiver), Josh Snead (running back), Laken Tomlinson (right guard) and Takoby Cofield (left tackle).
Duke held its first team meeting of the new season on Sunday and its first practice Monday night, both without Deaver.
Boone, Deaver’s roommate, said Deaver is itching to return.
“He’s hungry,” Boone said. “He’s going to come back ready to work. That’s the only mindset that he has. He’s ready to come out here and prove to the team that he’s ready to play football on Saturdays. That’s all he talks about at home is that he’s ready to come back and play and he’s ready to be around us and play football. That’s what we came here to do, on top of school work.”
Boone admitted that Deaver’s absence does impact team chemistry. During the players only practices over the summer, there were a couple of new concepts worked on.
“Summer work,” Boone said. “What you see on Saturdays is built in the summer. That’s what he missed.”
Also missing … -- Cutcliffe said redshirt sophomore tight end Dan Beilinson and freshman cornerback Johnathan Lloyd are both unavailable for practice due to injuries.
Both players have had surgery and neither is expected to be back on the practice field for a significant period of time, Cutcliffe said.
Kyler Brown, transitioning from linebacker to defensive end, turned an ankle over the summer and is considered limited for practice.
Reeves gets reps -- With Deaver and Beilinson both out, redshirt junior David Reeves is in line for extra work at tight end during the first week of practice.
Reeves started all 13 Duke games in 2012 when Deaver missed the season due to injuries (torn ACL, broken kneecap, fractured thumb).
Reeves played in 14 games as a reserve last season. He caught touchdown passes in Duke’s bowl games in each of the last two seasons.
“This is a great opportunity for him, coming off the bowl game (where) he had a great showing,” Boone said. “This is the time for him to get his reps. Obviously we know Deaver can do it. He’s going to be our guy.”
Offensive line status -- Duke returns three starters on its offensive line – center Matt Skura, left tackle Takoby Cofield and right guard Laken Tomlinson.
Lucas Patrick, who started for an injured Perry Simmons at right tackle in the Chick-fil-A Bowl is atop the depth chart at left guard as practice begins.
A position battle is underway at right tackle, where Simmons started 50 consecutive games prior to his injury last December.
Tanner Stone and Casey Blaser, both redshirt sophomores, will vie for the starting job, with redshirt freshman Sterling Korona also in the mix for playing time.
He said it.. --
“It still bothers me. Every time I see Johnny Manziel on television, I think about it. Every time I hear `You played a great game against Texas A&M’ I think about it. But it’s helped me understand maturing as a quarterback, understanding not having to do too much.” – Duke quarterback Anthony Boone, on his two fourth-quarter interceptions – including the pick-six with 3:33 to play that delivered Texas A&M the game’s final points – in the 52-48 loss to the Aggies in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.