SAN PABLO, Calif. -- On Thursday, the California football team ran through a fairly routine practice, except for one big exception.
One of the pleasant surprises of the day was the unexpected visit of former All-American center Alex Mack to the Bears' 10th spring practice.
"He was coaching," said head coach Jeff Tedford, when asked about the presence of the All-Pro lineman for the Cleveland Browns. "It was good to see him here."
Mack no doubt has more time on his hands than usual these days, with no official team activities taking place and a lockout looming in the NFL. Tedford joked that if there were a lockout, Mack might find himself with a position on the staff.
But while Mack was back in the fold, redshirt freshman offensive lineman Alejandro Crosthwaite was sidelined with a sprained ankle, taking his place along other wounded linemen like Mitchell Schwartz, Dominic Galas and Justin Gates.
Senior wide receiver Coleman Edmond was still sidelined with a pulled muscle. Inside linebacker D.J. Holt was practicing with a cast on, for what coach Tedford described as a fracture in his wrist near the base of his hand, but he was able to fully participate in drills.
During the first portion of practice open to the media, the Bears went through two sets of 11-on-11 drills.
Junior quarterback Zach Maynard ran with the first-string group, which included the usual crew of skill players: Isi Sofele at running back, Marvin Jones and Keenan Allen out wide, and Anthony Miller locking down the tight end spot.
Tedford was mum on whether or not he has a favorite at this point in the three-man race for the starting quarterback job.
"Spring is about competing at the quarterback position, and they're doing that," Tedford said of Maynard, senior Brock Mansion and sophomore Allan Bridgford. "They're getting better and better every day and there's a lot of learning going on. I see them progressing and maybe by the end of spring, somebody will separate themselves."
Mansion ran with the second group early in practice. The second-team offense consisted of freshman tight end Jacob Wark; Golden West transfer running back Mike Manuel, who continues his push for time and scrappy walk-on receiver Jackson Bouza.
The offensive line of the first group consisted of Tyler Rigsbee at left tackle, Brian Schwenke at left guard, Mark Brazinski at center, Justin Cheadle at right guard and Matt Summers-Gavin at right tackle.
On the first team defense, Sean Cattouse and D.J. Campbell manned the two safety spots as Cal continues to regain health in the defensive backfield. Freshman linebacker David Wilkerson continued to work with the veterans of the defense -- the likes of Holt, Mychal Kendricks and Ernest Owusu -- as he pushes to become the first of a deep group of young Bears linebackers looking to break through in the fall.
Tedford has high hopes for Kendricks, who he hopes can step into more of a leadership role this fall after his breakout season last year.
"He's really done a nice job of maturing and being a leader for the defense, and for the team really," Tedford praised. "He's a veteran who really understands what we're doing, he and DJ both have a really good understanding inside."