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August 28, 2012
FORT WORTH, Texas - It's been just a few weeks since new linebacker coach Randy Shannon stepped onto TCU's campus, but he's already making an impact.
Shannon's newest project is Antonio Graves, who rejoined the team this weekend and made the shift over to linebacker from safety. Patterson said there was no question; he would either be a linebacker or a tailback upon his return.
"[Marcus] Mallet wasn't a very good linebacker last year and Coach Shannon has him playing a lot better," Patterson said. "We'll see if he can work the same magic on Antonio."
Graves's speed was ultimately what gave him the linebacker nod, to help combat the 10 and 11 personnel, one-back offenses of the Big 12. His biggest struggle in spring ball was playing against two-back sets, which won't be as much of an issue, Patterson said.
"With the way Antonio runs, he can give us a lot of depth, especially with [Danny] Heiss still being out. When we get another guy who can run like that and can cover the backs it's a good positive," Patterson said.
While the Frogs retained Graves, Patterson officially announced that James Dunbar is no longer on the team, adding even more questions to those already raised by the release of the latest depth chart Monday.
To combat some of the depth issues that remain in the offensive line, Jeremy Coleman moved from defensive tackle to offensive guard, but remains off the three-deep at both positions.
"He's been there about a week. He wasn't playing on defense and we need depth. You can't move them during the season so that's what we're trying to do with two weeks left," Patterson said.
After a strong start to fall camp, freshman A.J. Hilliard fell off the latest depth chart, which Patterson said was all a matter of attrition. With older linebackers returning from injury, he found himself bumped off the three-deep.
On the other hand, freshman Devonte Fields currently sits on top of the chart at right defensive end, ahead of senior Ross Forrest. Patterson said this is mutually from Forrest's injury recovery and Fields' work during fall camp. Patterson said he hopes both Fields and Forrest can get time at the position but isn't sure of Forrest's status for the first game.
The running back corps is shakier than the depth chart lists, as junior Waymon James has been limited at practice with nagging injuries. Andre Dean is technically listed as the third back on the depth chart, but Patterson said that all can change depending on health.
"Waymon really hasn't had the two-a-days I would have liked. Right now [Matthew] Tucker is the only guy playing like we need him to. Waymon is nicked up with an ankle, so we're trying to find a number two guy," Patterson said. "Waymon's good enough, he's just got to get well enough."
The Frogs go through a mock game weekend this weekend, to prepare for the rigors of a game day. Friday the team has a video test with a mock game following Saturday morning. Fans can then come "Meet the Frogs" later Saturday night .
Tuesday's practice was forced into the indoor facility due to lightning but the coach said he was happy with how the team adjusted.
"We had a pretty good practice but we had to finish," Patterson said. "We had a live drill at the end and we didn't finish the way we would have liked to."
"This week everyone else is cutting back," Patterson said. "We've got Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to get better. That's why there's still some live stuff. You've still got to get the younger players on your team going and get them better."
Patterson said he just wants his players to take advantage of the next two days before heading into a game preparation week.