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Gators QB John Brantley back at practice after bout with strep throat and likes that Meyer defends his players

GAINESVILLE -- UF assistant coach Steve Addazio told reporters on Friday that he had strep throat.

Obviously, my question was "So, you got Brantley sick?"

Addazio was quick to clarify.

"No!" he said. "He got me sick!"

Addazio said on Friday that both Brantley and Marcus Gilbert had strep throat this week. Brantley was back at practice on Friday and looking good. Gilbert of Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas is still out. Addazio said that Gilbert sits too close to him during team meetings and described Gilbert as "so germy."

Brantley looked really good on Friday. His favorite targets were Deonte Thompson, Stephen Alli and Chris Rainey (Oh, by the way, Chris Rainey was back on Friday as well). At one point, those three receivers were lining up with the first team. Don't look into that too much, though. Plenty can change between now and ... Saturday. The Gators will scrimmage on Saturday morning. There will not be an player availability for reporters afterwards.

Players were, however, made available on Friday and Brantley was asked about UF coach Urban Meyer's conversation with an Orlando Sentinel reporter.

"Coach Meyer has our back and that's what you want to see out of your coaches," Brantley said. "We trust our coaches and they trust us and that's what we want to see."

A few observations...

-Stephen Alli is only a redshirt freshman but this guy is looking great in practice. I think the staff is really trying to find a spot for him this fall.

-Senior cornerback Moses Jenkins made some great plays on Friday. He's currently running with the first-team defense.

-Fans were waiting for Urban Meyer after practice. Meyer left through the side gate.

-Chris Rainey looked great at slot receiver on Friday. One of his cuts made true freshman Matt Elam fall on his face. Elam is trying to learn the nickel back position.

-First-team defensive end Justin Trattou told me that he worked out all offseason with defensive tackle Omar Hunter and that Hunter is in the best shape of his life. Trattou is looking good as well.

-Addazio said that seven offensive linemen are either hurt or sick. The seven: Maurice Hurt, Kyle Koehne, Carl Johnson, Marcus Gilbert, Matt Patchan, Sam Robey and David Young.

-Safety Josh Evans was on crutches on Friday.

-Dee Finley looks to be a quick study at linebacker.

-Safety Ahmad Black appears to be one of the main defensive leaders this spring. The players look up to him and he's very vocal in practice. Black said that returning for his senior season was an easy decision.

-jo-

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