Opening spring: Syracuse

March, 20, 2012
3/20/12
4:00
PM ET
Syracuse opens spring practice today. Here is a quick primer on what to expect.

Spring changes: The Orange made a few coaching changes on defense, hiring Donnie Henderson to coach the defensive backs and Steve Morrison to coach the linebackers. The Orange also are losing key players Chandler Jones, Mikhail Marinovich, Antwon Bailey, Nick Provo and Van Chew among many others. Syracuse will only have 70 players available this spring, but coach Doug Marrone says that won't stop him from playing a spring game next month.

Position battles to watch

Defensive line. Depth must be built at this position, and two starting end jobs have to be filled with the departures of Marinovich and Jones, and key backup Torrey Ball. Being without Robinson in the spring further depletes the depth, as Donnie Simmons and Brandon Sharpe are the only healthy players listed at end on the current Syracuse roster.

Running back. Losing another 1,000-yard rusher in Bailey means the Orange have to look for another starter. Adonis Ameen-Moore is out for spring, leaving Steve Rene, Jerome Smith, Prince-Tyson Gulley to split the majority of the reps. All these players have talent, but hardly any have major experience carrying the ball. Bailey had 240 carries for 1,051 yards last season; the running back with the next highest total was Smith, with 37 carries for 134 yards. To put it another way, Bailey accounted for 73 percent of Syracuse's rushing yards and 61 percent of Syracuse's carries last season.

Receiver. This is a position with plenty of room for growth in the spring, with Alec Lemon sitting out and Chew and Dorian Graham gone. Marcus Sales is back in the mix -- how does he look after taking an entire year off? This really is a good opportunity for young players like Jarrod West, Keenan Hale, Kyle Foster and Jeremiah Kobena to show what they've got.

Injury report: The Orange have several players who will be sitting out spring practice -- receiver Alec Lemon (shoulder), linebacker Marquis Spruill (lower body), center Rob Trudo (lower body), offensive tackle Sean Hickey (knee) cornerback Keon Lyn (shoulder), Ameen-Moore (upper body), fullback Carl Cutler (knee), defensive end Micah Robinson (upper body) Backup quarterback Terrel Hunt is out while serving a suspension.

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