ANNAPOLIS - Outside linebacker Josh Tate and cornerback Albrey Felder passed the physical readiness test on Friday morning and will be allowed to rejoin the football team, head coach Ken Niumatalolo said.
Wide receiver Brandon Turner passed the PRT first thing Thursday morning and attended practice afterward. Felder and Tate failed the PRT on Thursday morning, but retook it Friday morning and passed.
"PRT is done with. That's a big-time relief," Niumatalolo said.
Turner, Tate and Felder initially failed the PRT just before preseason camp began in early August. Niumatalolo sent those players home, saying they could retake the test along with the rest of Midshipmen when the fall semester started on Aug. 20.
Turner started every game at one wide receiver spot last season. In his absence, Casey Bolena has risen to the top of the depth chart. Niumatalolo had previously stated that Turner, Tate and Felder would be placed at the bottom of the depth chart whenever they were cleared to practice and would need to work their way back up.
Tate emerged from spring drills as the starter at the outside linebacker position known as Striker. Chris Johnson and Jordan Drake are now battling for that starting spot. Felder also had a good spring camp and was No. 2 at one of the cornerback positions.
Turner is expected to work his way back into the wide receiver rotation and travel to Dublin, Ireland for the Notre Dame game. However, defensive coordinator Buddy Green said it will be very difficult for Tate and Felder to make the three-deep after missing so much of preseason practice.
KICKING UPDATE: Navy's placekickers performed better in Friday's situational scrimmage than they did last Saturday under similar circumstances at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Niumatalolo had all five placekicking candidates attempt field goals from varioius distances and the group finished 15-for-20. Plebe Austin Grebe went 5-for-5, making from 24, 40, 44, 48 and 50 yards. Fellow freshman Nick Sloan split the uprights from 24, 40 and 44 yards before missing wide left from 48.
Junior Brynmore Hughes was on target from 24, 40, 44 and 48 yards before having his attempt from 50 yards bounce off the crossbar.
"Grebe won the contest today, but my gut feeling is that Sloan has been the most consistent," Niumatalolo said.
"We need to make a decision and move forward these last two weeks, kind of hone in on a couple guys. I'm just looking for accuracy, a guy that can kick it through the uprights."
Niumatalolo said Navy would travel two kickers to Dublin, Ireland for the season opener against Notre Dame. Sophomore Colin Amerau appears slated to handle kickoff duties.
College football teams will kick off from the 35-yard line this season and Niumatalolo feels it could be a big advantage to have a kicker who can consistently boot the ball into the end zone and force opponents to start from the 25-yard line.
BACKUP QB BATTLE: Sophomore John Hendrick and freshman Keenan Reynolds continue to fight for the right to back up starting quarterback Trey Miller.
‘I think those two guys are still neck-and-neck. That's one that will probably go to the end. Those two guys are going to battle it out for the next two weeks," Niumatalolo said.
Reynolds played a bit better in Friday's scrimmage, completing both passes he attempted for 15 yards. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound plebe showed good timing and accuracy in completing a pass to slotback Darius Staten on a crossing pattern. The Tennessee native also looked smooth in the option game — forcing defenders to respect the quarterback keeper before dealing off nice pitches.
"He's promising. I'm very excited about him. He keeps his mouth shut, listens and tries to come out and do what you tell him. He's going to be a good player for us," Navy offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ivin Jasper said of Reynolds. "He still has some work to do. I gave him a test and he still made some mistakes on it."
However, Jasper indicated that time in the offensive system gave Hendrick a slight advantage over Reynolds.
"Right now, if Trey goes down, John would be the one to go in," Jasper said. "The big thing with John right now is consistency. The kid is very talented and can throw the ball, but he still makes the mistakes that can get you beat."
PUNT RETURNER: Navy has been auditioning punt returners this week to replace Matt Aiken, who suffered a knee injury and will likely miss the opener. Wide receiver Shawn Lynch fielded the majority of punts during the scrimmage and Niumatalolo said he currently has the job with slotback Gee Gee Greene the backup.