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UM notes: Lockdown reinforcing team bond

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — Earlier in this month during media day proceedings, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh almost casually mentioned that he, his staff and the Wolverines would not be publicly available during preseason camp while they went "submarine" during preparations.

The Big Ten Network and Michigan students had a chance to catch a couple of practices last week, but the news out of camp largely has been limited the last three weeks.

Offensive coordinator Tim Drevno and defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin surfaced briefly on Monday to meet with media and offer a few crumbs, but the submarine has been on lockdown and the coaches have liked it that way.

Michigan opens the season at Utah on Sept. 3.

"It's really brought our team together," Durkin said of camp. "We've only been with one another all day every day. There really hasn't been breaks in the action for them, either. We're over here in this building all day. If we're not practicing we're meeting or walking through, we're doing something. We're all together coaches and players alike. It's really brought everyone together."

Safety Jabrill Peppers could see action on offense, coach Jim Harbaugh has said.

Drevno has worked on Harbaugh's staffs for 11 years, so he is not unfamiliar with this approach to preparing for a season.

"When you're around each other and there's not anybody in the facility, you can concentrate on what you need to learn, how you need to do it, you can build relationships with your coaches and you get to know your teammates and get a trust," Drevno said.

Peppering the field

Ranked No. 2 on the preseason Michigan football hype meter, behind Harbaugh of course, is Jabrill Peppers.

Peppers, the highlight of the 2014 recruiting class who sat out most of last season with leg injuries, has moved from corner to safety, and Harbaugh has said he could play offense in addition to working in the return game.

Coaches have talked about his leadership qualities, not to mention the high-speed approach the redshirt freshman takes with everything.

"Jabrill, as always, he brings it every day," Durkin said. "He's one of the hardest workers on the team and he's very talented. There's a lot of things he can do to help our team. It's a matter of us figuring out where we need him most and where the best spots are for him to help us.

"Whatever we ask him to do he goes and does it 100 mph. He doesn't ask why or how or what about this, he just goes and does it. He's very talented."

Running the field

As far as Michigan's running game, it's unclear what direction the coaches will go.

Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith return as juniors and there's USC-transfer Ty Isaac as well as Drake Johnson, who gave Michigan a boost late last season before tearing his knee ligament in the final game. Johnson continues make strides to get back to playing speed.

"They've all done a good job, really have," Drevno said, not tipping his hand on whether one back has separated from the group. "They've really improved there."

Offense or defense

A year ago at this time, expectations were high for then-freshman receiver Freddy Canteen, who was not productive during the season.

But based on video from BTN's visit to practice last Wednesday, the speedy Canteen was shown working at cornerback. Durkin wouldn't say if Canteen is practicing exclusively on defense.

"We have a lot of guys who work both offense and defense," Durkin said. "We're trying to find the best fit for everyone as a team. That's what this time of year is for and why we're doing it."

Rotating O-Line

While the offensive line seems to be fairly set, Drevno said it's still in flux as he works several rotations. But the best guess for the starting five: center Graham Glasgow, tackles Mason Cole and Erik Magnuson and guards Kyle Kalis and Ben Braden.

Drevno did say the line, which he coaches, has made marked improvement since the spring and they're all understanding how to think as one and know how to adapt if a certain player rotates in.

"They just know where to go," Drevno said. "They're starting to get a chemistry up front. You can see that. They're starting to think the same thing."

By rotating players in and out of the line, Drevno said, he's developing the sixth, seventh and eighth linemen who will contribute and offer more depth and versatility.

angelique.chengelis@detroitnews.com

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