The Gophers’ use of Jeff Jones at wide receiver this spring appears to be more than just an experiment.
The highly touted freshman from Minneapolis Washburn continues to play both tailback and slot receiver during spring scrimmages. When the Gophers break into individual position groups, Jones works with the receivers, not the running backs.
“Right now him getting out and running bubble screens and doing those kinds of things — that’s where we have the most need right now,” coach Jerry Kill said Thursday. “We had him at running back all the other practices, and he’s a very intelligent kid. He learns very well and quick.
“So he’s able to do some of those things, and the more stuff you do with him in the spring, the more you can do with him in the fall.”
Kill has said the strong play by Rodrick Williams, Rodney Smith and Berkley Edwards at tailback has spurred the staff to find ways to maximize the talent on the field with Jones.
After playing with two dislocated ribs last week, quarterback Mitch Leidner said that injury hasn’t been an issue since Saturday. ESPN.com also reported that Leidner quietly played through a broken left wrist injury last spring.
Leidner said he broke the wrist in the 2013 Texas Bowl against Syracuse, and since it hadn’t healed, he had it screwed together after last year’s spring camp.
“We kind of kept that one secret,” Leidner said.
Between the wrist injury, the knee and toe injuries he played through last fall and then the recent rib injury, Leidner added, “It feels good to be healthy.”
• Desmond Gant has been out because of a concussion and fellow redshirt freshman receiver Isaiah Gentry has a tight hamstring. Both have had a great spring, Kill said.
Braving the elements
The Gophers held their past three practices outdoors after staying mostly indoors the previous two springs. “It’s good for [the punters] because they’ve been in the dungeon, just kicking holes in the ceiling,” Kill said.