NORMAN — With gray skies and cool temperatures in the 80s, Oklahoma conducted its first preseason practice of 2019 in ideal conditions.
The morning was even sweeter for junior safety Robert Barnes, who saw his first action since the Orange Bowl.
He started eight games last season but didn’t participate in spring practices due to an injury he suffered during a violent hit from Alabama running back Josh Jacobs in the College Football Playoff.
“Robert came in and was full go today. It was good to have him back,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “He's played a bunch of ball for us, both on defense and special teams. It looked like he was moving around well.”
Chanse Sylvie, who wasn’t clear from an Achilles’ heel injury until the tail-end of 2018, appears to be 100 percent.
“Chanse finally looks healthy and running like he was before the injury,” Riley said. “He was pushing through it in the spring but wasn't quite himself. He's much more fluid. With our training staff and strength staff, Chanse has done a really nice job and is much better athletically than he was.”
Riley also noted that redshirt junior safety Jordan Parker practiced well after not playing in the final three games of 2018 due to an injury.
Safety was one of OU's thinnest positions in the spring. At that time defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said he'd pick sophomores Patrick Fields and Delarrin Turner-Yell to start at the position.
• Redmond easing in: Friday, it was announced that defensive end/Jack linebacker Jalen Redmond was 100 percent cleared for practice, but the redshirt freshman didn’t participate fully in Saturday’s workout.
Redmond was forced to redshirt last season due to recurrent blood-clot issues. He is considered a huge X-factor for the defense; a meaningful season for him would give the Sooners an elite pass rusher they desperately need.
The fatal risk of blood clots has OU watching Redmond’s health closely.
“He’s moving around well. We were kind of slowly building him up a little bit, not throwing him into everything right now, so he didn’t go through the entire practice,” Riley said. “Mentally he seems to be in a really good spot. I think he’s got a good feel for what we’re doing schematically. He was taking advantage of that today. He’s really lost a lot of body fat, done a good job with his body. We’ve got to keep seeing how he responds to increased work loads, but so far, very positive.”
• Room to move: Signs point to R.J. Proctor playing a role on OU’s rebuilding offensive line, regardless of whether he plays guard or tackle.
The Virginia graduate-transfer made six starts at left guard last fall.
“He gives us some position flexibility, both his mind, how smart he is, also his athleticism,” Riley said. “We need to get him in pads. But hopeful right now that he could provide depth, even if he is a starter, could provide depth at other positions.”
Proctor arrived over the summer. He had a good first day with the Sooners.
“From the times I saw him — I'm not with him every single period of the day — it looked like he had a pretty good idea of what we're doing. He's a really, really smart kid. As a graduate transfer with one year to go, that's pretty big,” Riley said. “You need someone who can pick this thing up pretty quick, especially for a guy who wasn't here … Physically, he's certainly good enough to help us.”