Senior Kale Pearson participated in spring practice for Air Force, but being only five months removed from surgery to repair a torn ACL he did so in limited fashion. He ran only straight ahead - no cutting - and took far fewer reps than his fellow quarterbacks.
He had no such limitations on Thursday as the Falcons opened practice and Pearson began his fight to reclaim the starting position he won last year before an injury in the second quarter of the opener ended his season.
"It's awesome not having a trainer in my ear asking me how I feel or if I need to slow it down," Pearson said. "It was awesome just to go out there and play Kale Pearson football."
Offensive coordinator Mike Thiessen confirmed that Pearson has "been cleared to do everything." Pearson was even running with the first team, but he said that didn't mean a great deal on the first day as the depth chart hadn't even been made known to the players.
"They didn't ever actually tell us who was with the 1s or 2s," Pearson said, "so I just took the initiative. . This is my senior year, I can't let go of any opportunities."
A crowded quarterback field includes sophomore Nate Romine, junior Karson Roberts, sophomore Pate Davis and five freshmen, with the early leader of that group appearing to be dual-threat talent Tyler Williams.
New jerseys revealed
The Air Force athletic department tweeted pictures Thursday of a special uniform that will be worn for select games in 2014. The uniforms include a two-tone blue helmet with white lightning bolt and chrome lettering on the jersey.
Predictably, coach Troy Calhoun offered little in the way of excitement over the new look. Calhoun pointed out that the jerseys wouldn't factor into the team's ability to block, tackle or win the turnover battle.
"I've seen them," he acknowledged, without confirming which games they will be worn. "As long as it's done in good respect, that's fine. As long as it done in a way where it embraces the academy, embraces our tradition and yet at the same time it's got to have some quality, some class to it."
Former Air Force linebacker Alex Means was a spectator at practice on Thursday, as he has completed his year as a graduate assistant for the football team but is awaiting transfer to a base near Omaha, Neb.
Means recently spent a week at camp with the Carolina Panthers, where he said he played the best football of his life and moved up to the starting unit.
He was not signed after camp and was then one of two linebackers invited to try out with the Giants.
He is now a free agent.