As much attention as there has been surrounding the return of Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown from a season-ending knee injury a year ago, there’s also been interest in those assigned to protecting him from their positions on the offensive line.
Sophomore tackle Mike Madaras found himself talking to reporters after Thursday’s open-to-the-media practice in College Park, but much of the attention evolved from a recent two-week suspension for violation of university rules.
Madaras wouldn’t talk about his transgression – politely redirecting inquiries to coach Randy Edsall – but said he will try to take positives away from it.
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Currently listed as a starter, the 6-foot-5, 295-pound lineman said, “I wasn’t happy when it [the suspension] was happening, but now looking back on it I really do think it was a good thing…It really put me back on track.”
Here are some other interesting things to come out of practice:
** Edsall said there has been some separation among the three most viable candidates to back up Brown at quarterback, but he is not ready to make a decision. That could come after Saturday’s scrimmage, which will be part of Fan Appreciation Day at Byrd Stadium. (Gates open at 12:30 p.m.)
“In my mind, I’m a little closer to knowing who’s 2, who’s 3 and who’s 4, but again I’m going to let that play out until after the scrimmage on Saturday,” Edsall said. “Kind of taking one day at a time, evaluate each practice and see where we feel they stand. You hope to try to get them all equal reps.”
Asked who has separated from a pack that includes sophomores Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe as well as well junior transfer Ricardo Young, Edsall said, “They’re all three still fighting it out. We’ll just let it all play out. By the time we get back out here Monday afternoon, we’ll have it all worked out.”
** Derrick Hayward of Salisbury was recruited to play linebacker, but the 6-5, 202-pound freshman was being used as a tight end Thursday.
“As I watched him moved around, I liked him as a [strong-side linebacker] but we have a little bit of a void at tight end,” Edsall said.
The Terps are still looking for a backup to senior Dave Stinebaugh. There are currently four redshirt freshmen behind him.
Now Hayward is being added to the mix.
“We thought that’s where he could make the best contribution for our team for where we’re at,” Edsall said. “He was all for it. We got a big tall guy who can run and can stretch the field. He’s got good hands, he’s put on a little bit of weight since he’s been here and can put a little bit more. I think it helps to make us better.”
** The kicking game has been an issue for the Terps dating back to last season, when Brad Craddock had an inconsistent freshman year, including hitting the crossbar and missing a potential short game-winning kick in the waning seconds at home against N.C. State.
After a shaky start to the preseason, Craddock seems to have solidified his spot and has been able to hold off both sophomore Brendan Magistro and freshman Adam Greene (Broadneck). Craddock went 4 for 5 Thursday, including sneaking a 49-yarder just over the crossbar after a high snap.
“I thought Brad Craddock had a really good day today, he had a really good day last night when we kicked,” Edsall said. “I think he’s back in the groove. Adam Greene has a really strong leg, but Brad’s the guy.”
Greene -- who kicked an Anne Arundel Country-record 55-yard field goal as a junior and set the state record last season with 26 field goals as a senior -- also kicked a 49-yarder, but he missed from 28 and 42 yards. Magistro, who briefly replaced Craddock last season, missed his only kick Thursday, from 35 yards.
** Transfer defensive end Zeke Riser, a late transfer from Houston who was expected to add experience and depth to a group that lost Joe Vellano and A.J. Francis to graduation, missed practice Thursday with an undislosed injury.
Edsall declined to discuss the injury to Riser, who was seen limping noticeably earlier in the week, adding that he will address it when he speaks about injuries on Monday. Riser suffered a torn ACL while playing for Houston.