COLLEGE PARK — Maryland’s practice Thursday morning ended with a punt catching competition between the offense and the defense.

The offense was represented by right guard Andrew Zeller. The defense had 320-pound nose tackle Darius Kilgo.

The losing side had to do conditioning runs, which ended up being the defense after Kilgo muffed his third or fourth attempt and Zeller then successfully fielded his next punt.

Running backs coach Andre Powell also participated, and the coaches ran along with the defense after Powell was unable to track down his final attempt.

Here are some other notes and observations from practice:

** Junior cornerback Alvin Hill has been primarily a reserve during his career, but he entered preseason camp listed as a starter, was praised by coach Randy Edsall Wednesday and had two big plays Thursday. He intercepted a long C.J. Brown pass attempt on the first play of team drills and later broke up a pass intended for wide receiver Levern Jacobs. Hill needs to get better as a tackler, Edsall said, but the coach also said Hill is “getting better all the time.”

** Running back-turned-receiver Jacquille Veii is working to get comfortable at wide receiver and had to be directed where to go at different times Thursday, but he continues to make some plays in the passing game and also had a good block to spring running back Albert Reid for a nice-sized run. Veii’s blocking was one of the things Edsall referenced when talking about what Veii will bring to the receiver position.

** Wide receiver Stefon Diggs had some good moments, including a 50-yard catch early in practice after he beat cornerback Jeremiah Johnson on a deep post. Jacobs also had some nice plays and continues to look like a player capable of doing some damage with all of the attention that will likely be paid to Diggs and Deon Long.

** Like the majority of the offense, Brown had an unimpressive first week of preseason practice, but he had a nice 15-yard completion to Taivon Jacobs on a rollout Thursday and has rarely stuck out for negative reasons since last week. He has looked more like the savvy, decisive and capable sixth-year senior quarterback that Maryland expects him to be.

** Kicker Brad Craddock had a rare missed field goal. He connected on two short attempts and then on a kick from around 42 yards, but he was short from around 50.

** Running back Wes Brown continues to look good catching passes out of the backfield, especially for a 215-pound back. Brown also had the key block on a long run by backup quarterback Caleb Rowe and got the offensive sideline excited late in practice when he ran through several defenders for a 10-yard gain inside the red-zone.

** Backup safeties Zach Dancel and A.J. Hendy both had big hits. Dancel nailed Diggs with Diggs trying to pick up extra yards across the middle. Hendy then sent Veii flying out of bounds after Veii had picked up a decent amount of yards down the sideline.

** The Terps hosted two critically ill children and their families at practice through the Casey Cares Foundation. The children and their families also ate lunch with members of the team after practice.

mzenitz@tribune.com

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