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Irish Insights

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Notre Dame practice report: April 4

SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame stayed inside for practice on a cold, wet Friday morning, and I kept my eye on the defense to the portion open to the media.

Cornerback Rashad Kinlaw was not at practice. Coach Brian Kelly is scheduled to meet with the media after practice ends and could provide on update on the missing sophomore.

Linebacker Jarrett Grace, who wasn't at the practice the media attended last Saturday, returned Friday. He was on crutches after having a rod inserted into the leg he broke last season to help the healing process last week.

Offensive lineman Christian Lombard no longer had his right arm in a sling and just wore a cast. He broke his wrist earlier in camp.

Defensive lineman Jhonny Williams, who signed with Notre Dame on Feb. 5, attended practice as did former Irish safety Zeke Motta.

As for the practice, the defensive opened with three stations for players to force fumbles that the defensive linemen, linebackers and defensive backs rotate through.

One station was knocking the ball out of a running backs hand from behind with another player coming down to scoop of the loose ball.

Another station had two tackling dummies set up as quarterbacks with a ball attached to one of the arms and players came off the line from the blind side to knock the ball off the arm.

The final station was knocking the ball out of a receiver's hands.

The Irish struggled to cause turnovers last season, ranking 103 in forced turnovers and last in fumble recoveries with four.

I paid the closest attention to the quarterback strip-and-sack drill and the thing that jumped out the most was linebacker and former Bishop Luers star Jaylon Smith's form when he got to the quarterback. Smith had a strong sweeping motion to knock the ball loose, and he hit the dummy with force.

Elijah Shumate appears to be fully moved from safety to linebackers as he worked with the linebackers during the portion of practice open to the media. He also had a strong arm sweep to knock the ball loose.

Devin Butler was somewhat active with the cornerbacks as he recovers from shoulder surgery. He wore a helmet but no pads as he went through non-contact drills.

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