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Day 5: Texas Longhorns practice in pads for first time

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News and notes from Friday’s practice.

NCAA Football: Texas Spring Game John Gutierrez-USA TODAY Sports

In preparation for Saturday’s scrimmage, the Texas Longhorns donned full pads for the first time on Friday as head coach Tom Herman and his staff continued the installation process.

In an effort to increase the physicality of practice and see how his team responded to being in pads, Herman installed goal-line and red-zone plays on Friday.

“Really, really good day today,” Herman said during his customary post-practice availability. “I was anticipating how we would respond to putting full pads on and four really tough days, long days, leading up to it. The guys came out with a lot of juice.”

Herman had previously expressed concerns about the team hitting a wall after four days of practice, but it sounds like that was not the case.

One of the biggest stories out of preseason camp remains the increased strength of the entire football team. Herman indicated that he’s still happy with the results of offseason conditioning work, as the team’s pad level, knee bend, and hip explosion were all positives that he took from Friday’s work.

Junior left tackle Connor Williams continued to echo those types of comments.

"It's crazy how much stronger we are now,” he said. “It's crazy how much more durability we have."

According to junior nickel back PJ Locke III, the “pads were popping” on Friday, enabled by the benefits of the team’s offseason workouts.

On the injury front, junior running back Kirk Johnson, who left Monday’s practice with a hamstring issue, is expected to return to the field next Monday. After Johnson missed the entirety of the 2016 season and struggled with injuries as a freshman in 2015, there’s increasing concern that he might never contribute for the ‘Horns.

So his ability to even make it through the rest of preseason camp will be an important storyline in the running backs room leading up to the season opener against Maryland in less than a month.

Redshirt freshman wide receiver Reggie Hemphill-Mapps left practice on Thursday with dizziness related to a migraine headache, but returned on Friday, though he was held out of contact situations.

The Saturday scrimmage will feature the first-team offense against the first-team defense and the second-team offense against the second-team defense, in contrast to the Orange-White game, which was ones versus twos.