Red-White Spring Game, 4/15/17

Nebraska running back Devine Ozigbo gets tackled by linebacker Avery Roberts (top) and defensive back Marquel Dismuke (19) in the first half during the Red-White Spring Game on April 15 at Memorial Stadium.

Fall camp practice: No. 14.

Gear: Helmets and full pads.

Players' post-practice snack: Cups of blueberries.

Bray expects Roberts to play key role

Nebraska has two established starters at the inside linebacker spots in senior Chris Weber and junior Dedrick Young.

But that's not going to stop a couple of young backups from playing, according to Trent Bray.

The Husker linebacker coach said he expects true freshman Avery Roberts (Weber's backup) and sophomore Mohamed Barry (Young's backup) to play.

Bray's take on Roberts playing is not surprising considering the Wilmington, Delaware, native arrived on campus in January and had a strong spring.

The 6-foot-1, 230-pound Roberts will learn behind Weber, but the Huskers are expecting him to contribute, too.

"He's just got to develop as the season goes because we all know how a season goes," Bray said. "Who knows what game it will be, but we'll need him at some point to have a large role."

Bray said the coaches knew at the end of spring that Roberts had a chance to help the team right away. He appears to be past an offseason foot injury.

"He's having a good camp, we just got to keep him going in the right direction," Bray said.

Bray said the Huskers expect to rotate players at linebacker, and that includes the 6-1, 230-pound Barry.

"Mo's going to be a part of the game, and he's going to help and he's going to play," Bray said. "We've got ways how we're going to rotate those guys to make sure we get guys on the field and that are fresh."

Bray did not shut the door on true freshman Guy Thomas playing, though he still has a lot of room to grow.

"We're still in the process with him," Bray said.

Jones update: Chris Jones walked quickly past a group of reporters Tuesday — yes, quickly.

No crutches. No knee brace. No limp.

A month after undergoing a meniscus repair, the Nebraska senior cornerback shows no effects from the injury — at least when he’s walking.

Of course, walking and playing are different stories altogether.

“I would never want someone to come back if they’re not 100 percent healthy,” said Husker cornerbacks coach Donte’ Williams. “I mean, he plays a position where he can’t be on one leg. He needs to be healthy. He needs to be able to run and do the things Chris Jones does. Because mentally — football IQ — he’s amazing. But if your mind is mentally ready but your body can’t do the things your mind is telling to you do, you’re not ready yet.

"Once his body catches up with his mind, Chris will be back out there."

Williams is mindful that opponents may test Jones once he returns to action.

"People are going to attack him," Williams said. "Because no matter what, he’s one of the top corners in this conference. If you ask my opinion, he’s the best corner in this conference — even on one leg. The biggest thing for him is to make sure he comes back healthy. Because when you’re the best, everyone wants to attack the best."

Stille impressing: One of the more improved players since the start of fall camp is redshirt freshman Ben Stille, according to NU defensive coordinator Bob Diaco.

The 6-5, 255-pound Ashland-Greenwood graduate has been working at defensive end this fall.

"He's learning how to play harder," Diaco said. "He's learning how to cut it loose and not be thinking. He's a very cerebral young man. Very smart."

Coaches' gameday roles: Diaco addressed where he'll be positioned on gamedays. The first-year Husker defensive coordinator will be making calls from the press box.

"Everybody has a role," he said of the coaching staff. "We practice those roles. We don't just talk about the roles. Everybody knows what the roles are in detail and we'll practice several instances of those roles being executed."

The buzz is legit: You hear plenty of talk about the Nebraska defensive coaching staff's energy level.

The talk has substance, says junior defensive end Freedom Akinmoladun.

His position coach, John Parrella, expects unyielding energy, as does Diaco.

"You have to have energy," Akinmoladun said. "You will see it if you don't. Coach (Parrella) will call you out, 'Hey, pick it up, you need to get going.' You need to be on the same energy level as him."

Diaco's coaching style has had a profound effect on the players, Akinmoladun said.

“In the beginning, when he first came, most of us weren’t prepared for his intensity level,” Akinmoladun said. “But now, we’ve grown and accepted his intensity level, and that goes throughout the whole defense.”

On the injury front: Junior nose tackle Mick Stoltenberg and sophomore defensive lineman DaiShon Neal did not practice Tuesday. Redshirt freshman wide receiver JD Spielman, who had been battling a pulled muscle in his leg, was back.

Taking in practice: Larry The Cable Guy was on hand.

And, of course, the Big Ten Network was broadcasting from inside Memorial Stadium as the BTN crew continues its fall practice tour.

Nebraska was stop No. 9. Gerry DiNardo, the veteran analyst, apparently liked what he saw at practice. He tweeted, "To say it looks like a reboot would be an understatement. The new off/def scheme will move program forward in a big way."

He also tweeted this: "New energy helps describe practice. Off coaches coaching a scheme they believe in. Bob D as advertised great hire."

And this: "The difference in a reboot and just taking over a program is that relationships are already established in a reboot."

He declined to predict a win total.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2639 or cgrell@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSSportsGrell.


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