Michigan coach Lloyd Carr is congratulated by offensive lineman Mark Bihl after catching a touchdown pass on the last play of spring practice yesterday afternoon at Michigan Stadium.
JERRY S. MENDOZA / AP Enlarge
ANN ARBOR - The kind of problems Lloyd Carr may potentially deal with in the fall are the kind coaches would prefer.
Michigan, coming off a 9-3 season that included a share of the Big Ten championship, returns a group deep on talent, particularly on the offensive side of the football.
An estimated crowd of 10,000 attended the Wolverines' final spring practice yesterday at Michigan Stadium to get a glimpse of a group that figures to be ranked among the Top 10 in several preseason polls.
The controlled workout excluded any tackling to avoid potential injuries. Several players were kept out of spring workouts because of previous injuries.
Carr considered the 15 days of spring practice, including yesterday's drills, a successful experience.
"We made a lot of progress, yet, the only downside is the number of guys who missed practicing because of injury," said Carr, who is entering his 11th season as coach.
Yet, the likes of Chad Henne and Mike Hart, two of the top returning players, took part in the exercises.
Henne became the first freshman quarterback to lead his team to a Big Ten title last season after passing for more than 2,700 yards while tossing a school record-tying 25 touchdowns.
Hart earned Big Ten freshman of the year honors and was named an All-Big Ten first-team selection after gaining more than 1,400 yards on the ground and rushing for nine touchdowns last season.
Freshman running back Kevin Grady, who graduated early from high school to enroll at Michigan, impressed Carr during spring drills with his running power and quickness. The 5-11, 228-pounder from Ada, Mich., is expected to share some of the backfield work with Hart next season.
"He has had a tender elbow the last two days and he didn't run today like he's been running, but he's had an excellent spring," Carr said of Grady.
Grady is competing with Hart, Jerome Jackson, Max Martin, Brian Thompson and Eric VanBeek for snaps in the Wolverines backfield.
Carr believes the group as a whole is as talented a group he's had to work with.
"Our situation in our backfield has the potential to be as good as we've had in some time," Carr said. "They're all tough and they all can make cuts."
Wide receivers Jason Avant and Steve Breaston might not make UM fans forget All-American wideout Braylon Edwards, but they showed during the workout they have plenty of speed and solid hands to keep Michigan's passing game a threat. Avant caught 38 passes for 447 yards and Breaston 34 for 291 yards last year.
Contact Donald Emmons at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6302.
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