Observations from Georgia Tech’s fourth preseason practice

Georgia Tech underwent the first morning practice of the preseason Wednesday, taking the field in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts for a session that briefly was delayed by rain before ending under sunshine.

Observations from the portion of the practice open to the media, along with a note from defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker’s media availability:

1. Wide receiver Malik Rutherford performed well again in one-on-one pass drills. He went to the ground to secure a back-shoulder throw from quarterback Jeff Sims inches from the turf in one repetition. In another, he used a stop-and-go move on cornerback Eric Reed to get free to make a catch on a deep ball.

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2. As was the case Monday, the offense appeared to get the better of the secondary, breaking open for catches and drawing defensive pass-interference penalties. Wide receivers Ryan King and James BlackStrain and tight end Ben Wilhelm were among those getting open for receptions.

Safety Derrik Allen and cornerback Zamari Walton did execute well on two plays in particular, Allen defending wide receiver E.J. Jenkins well to force an incompletion and Walton recovering on a deep ball to Rutherford to break up the pass, both of which charged up Thacker.

3. Freshman defensive tackle K.J. Miles is trying to learn fast. During a drill using a blocking sled, Miles caught the attention of David Turner, assistant head coach for the defense, for not executing the drill properly. Later in the period, Turner stopped a different drill to show Miles how to correctly drive out of his stance.

Miles, one of Tech’s higher-ranked prospects in the freshman class, could see playing time this fall along with fellow freshman Horace Lockett, another defensive tackle.

4. After the practice, Thacker said that safeties Jaylon King and Allen “really are rock solid right now.” The two are vying to replace safeties Tariq Carpenter and Juanyeh Thomas, both now competing for roster spots in NFL training camps.

Thacker said that Allen “has some top-end ACC traits as a mover” and that King has shown himself to be a dependable player in the defense.

“I would argue he is one of the three most dependable guys on the defense in terms of what he knows, how he can keep his composure out there and how he can be in the right position,” Thacker said.

After that, LaMiles Brooks and Jalen Huff are battling for playing time behind them. Thacker said that Brooks is “establishing himself as one of the first couple-group safeties.”