Following today's practice, Rutgers defensive coordinator Jay Niemann addressed the media for the first time this summer. Niemann shared his thoughts on the return of Blessuan Austin, Damon Hayes' move to safety, the weakside linebacker competition and much more. 

One of the biggest stories on the defensive side of the football has been the competition for the weakside linebacker position between two-year starter Trevor Morris and former four-star Tyshon Fogg, who played just six games as a true freshman last season.

And how will the Rutgers coaching staff handle that competition in terms of playing time?

“We will cross that bridge when we get to it,” Niemann said. “I imagine we will have a rotation of some sort put together. It’s really hard for a guy to play every down all game, all year. Eventually, somebody is going to get worn down or hurt. We will have a plan in place and how that rotation will work will be depending on how close that competition is at the end of camp.

One player who Niemann talked about was redshirt sophomore Rashawn Battle, who was competing with Brendan DeVera for the backup middle linebacker spot this past spring. DeVera has since been dismissed from the team, although that has little to do with Battle’s emergence.

“Rashawn Battle, who I think was a really under the radar guy in the spring,” Niemann said. “He had a really good spring and he is making good progress these first several practices.”

One of the most steadfast components of training camp has been the stellar play of senior cornerback Blessuan Austin.

"He is covering well, he is changing directions well. He's doing a good job of getting the football out at the point of attack," Niemann said of Austin. "He's got a little ways to go to get to the end of camp to say he got out of it healthy. But right now, I think he is on pace where we want him to be come game one. I am really happy with that."

Leading up to camp, Niemann lost his projected starter at strong safety when KJ Gray was dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules. However, there seems to be no dropoff as junior Damon Hayes has enjoyed a strong showing through the first week of training camp.

“I think that position is solid. Damon transitioned to safety a little bit towards the tail end of spring football and got a start at least of learning the position then,” Niemann said. “And then worked out over the course of the summer, just studying and preparing. He came in at the position from day one of fall camp and he’s gotten off to a really good start, picking things up well. He came down the other day and made a nice, physical play in the run game. He is a guy who is going to stick his face in there and hit you, as well as be a good cover guy.”