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Practice No.6: Watkins working with first team

A few notes from Practice No.6 ... just a quick aside before we begin. I picked up NCAA '08 (college football video game) tonight after practice. I did so on the advice of Arkansas running back Darren McFadden, who informed me during a phone interview that he was the game's most highly rated player.

GAINESVILLE -- Today was the first day freshmen practiced with the returning players. It was also the first day players practiced in shoulder pads. Players can practice in full pads on Saturday.

Redshirt junior Jason Watkins practiced with first-team offensive line during the Gators' two-minute drills. One spot is up for grabs on the O-line. Watkins is expected to battle freshmen Maurice Hurt, Maurkice and Mike Pouncey for the starting role. (But I wouldn't count out Marcus Gilbert, either.)

-Injured freshman offensive lineman James Wilson rehabbed on the field today during practice. Wilson, who is recuperating from left knee surgery, will compete for playing time once healthy. Florida coach Urban Meyer said that Wilson will likely begin practicing in three weeks.

-Wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales said he was impressed with Riley Cooper on Tuesday. Cooper had three receptions -- all for touchdowns -- against Western Carolina in 2006, becoming the first freshman to accomplish such a feat since Jabar Gaffney in 2000.

-Spots along the defensive line are wide open right now and the competition rages. Along with returning starter Derrick Harvey, Meyer singled out Clint McMillan as an early top performer. Javier Estopinan (South Miami, pictured) appears to be an early frontrunner at defensive tackle as well. Meyer also said freshman defensive lineman Justin Trattou has excelled and will earn playing time.

Read more about practice in The Miami Herald or MiamiHerald.com.

-jo-

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