ATLANTA - Reggie Ball rarely draws praise for his accuracy.
Georgia Tech's quarterback is often complimented for his elusiveness and big-play ability. But when it comes to throwing the football, he's been as erratic as a crop duster - completing 51 percent of his career passes and throwing more interceptions (29), than touchdown passes (26).
Yet two weeks into preseason practice, teammates rave about his pinpoint passing.
"Reggie's real sharp," said Calvin Johnson, who laughed when asked if a more accurate Ball will ruin his reputation as a maker of circus catches. "He's become very accurate."
Ball completed 17 of 27 passes (63 percent) for 262 yards and five touchdowns in scrimmages on Wednesday and Saturday. He threw one interception.
The turnaround began well before those practice games, though. Johnson said he noticed a difference during voluntary workouts in the summer. Ball seemed much more comfortable and confident in the passing game as the start of preseason camp approached.
Ball's even impressed one of his harshest critics, head coach Chan Gailey. The coach stressed consistency and good decision making from his quarterback throughout 2004 and during spring practice earlier this year.
"He's getting the ball in the right spots right now and making the right decisions," Gailey said.
HALL'S STATUS UNKNOWN: Linebacker KaMichael Hall continues to practice with the second-team while working to resolve unspecified off-the-field issues.
Hall, one of the seven returning starters on the defense, missed a few practices earlier this week but worked out with the team Thursday and Friday and participated in Saturday's scrimmage.
Sophomore Gary Guyton is playing in Hall's place at outside linebacker. Gailey said Guyton would be the starter if the season began today and offered no timetable for when Hall's situation will be worked out.
TWO LINEMEN RETURN: Offensive guards Nate McManus and Jacob Lonowski participated in Saturday's scrimmage after missing most of the week's practices because of injury. Another guard, starter Matt Rhodes, remains out but should return some time next week.
The rash of injuries resulted in a shuffling of personnel up front, and Gailey admitted he is still looking at options on his line. LaShawn Newberry has shown progress at left guard since replacing Rhodes in the opening days of practice.
Salih Besirevic is still taking snaps at right guard after moving there from a back-up tackle spot when McManus and Lonowski got hurt.
"If these guys keep practicing and doing well and we start to mesh a little bit, I don't know who will start," Gailey said. "I really don't."
A SNEAK PEEK: True freshman tight end Colin Peek made an acrobatic catch during Saturday's scrimmage, a leaping one-hand grab for a touchdown. He made another touchdown catch in a scrimmage on Wednesday.
The Jacksonville, Fla., native got a chance to show his talents when George Cooper went down to injury.
Reach Adam Van Brimmer at (404) 589-8424 or email@example.com.
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