OXFORD - The Ole Miss Rebel football team opened its 2007 spring practice on the practice fields adjacent to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Friday under warm conditions.

"I thought it was crisp for the first practice," said Ole Miss head coach Ed Orgeron. "You could tell the experience of the offensive line. The running game started off very fast. BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a good day running the ball."

Orgeron praised some members of the Rebel defense, but said the unit still has to make some progress.

"The defense as a unit still has some work to do," said Orgeron, "The defensive line looked good and I thought Jonathan Cornell looked sharp at middle linebacker. Ashlee Palmer also did some good things. He looked comfortable for his first practice."

Orgeron also announced that junior wide receiver Mico McSwain will not participate in spring drills. "We are letting Mico McSwain take the spring off so that he can focus on academics," Orgeron said.

It was the Rebels first of 15 practices this spring, including the April 7 Red-Blue contest.

Bulldogs cut it short

to end their first week

STARKVILLE - After practicing for just over three hours Thursday, a drill considered a disappointment by head coach Sylvester Croom, the Bulldogs worked just two hours, 30 minutes Friday, the team's shortest workout this spring.

"We were better today than yesterday," Croom said afterward. "It was really a pretty good first week."

That fact, coupled with the temperatures dipping into the upper 40s by the time Friday's practice came to a close, prompted the head coach to end the week's final session a little early.

"I wasn't going to chance getting anyone else hurt in the cold weather," Croom said.

A few players drew Croom's post-practice attention Friday, including transfer quarterback Josh Riddell and senior defensive end Titus Brown.

Riddell received most of first-unit snaps Friday in the absence of junior Michael Henig, who spent the workout in the training room with back spasms. Croom indicated that Riddell was "making progress" at the position, but still needed a lot of work.

Croom also singled out the young players on the defensive line for their effort, and said that junior Derek Pegues was "in the right spot for him" at safety. Sophomore wide receiver Brandon McRae, a transfer from Morehead State , also caught the coach's eye.

Daily Journal reports

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