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At 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, Brian Blechen isn't scared of many things. But little ole tiny bees? Yep, you bet they are on his list.
He has good reason for the fear, too.
Blechen, one of Utah's most promising young defenders, was back on the field Friday after missing part of Thursday's practice following an unfortunate encounter with a bee.
Blechen was stung in the back of the throat after a bee flew in his mouth while he was running during a drill. He had to go to the hospital to have the stinger removed, but he was fine by Friday. The same couldn't be said of the bee.
"I think I swallowed it," he said. "I never saw it again."
Thursday's incident was the second time Blechen has had a run-in with a bee he was once stung in the eye. While he isn't allergic to bees, the encounters have left him with a little disdain for the creatures.
"I don't like them I'm scared of bees," he said.
With much of spring practice dedicated to installing Norm Chow's new offense, one might expect the offense to be a bit behind now. However, that isn't the case, with coach Kyle Whittingham noting the offense has improved vastly since spring.
Receivers Reggie Dunn and DeVonte Christopher and quarterback Jordan Wynn were solid for the offense in Friday's practice.
"We're much improved from spring," Whittingham said. "Having Jordan in there is a big reason for that, a big difference."
Wynn said the most notable improvement he has seen is the lack of mental errors such as the ones the team was making in the spring.
"Now we just need to work on execution," he said.
Hobbling around practice Friday was receiver Anthony Denham, whose pulled hamstring is worse than previously thought.
Denham could be out for two to three weeks, depending on the results of more exams. Missing such a critical time could put his season in jeopardy, Whittingham said.
"It could be hard to get him in game mode it's questionable," Whittingham said. "The upside is he has a redshirt year. That is the worst-case scenario. If we can't get him ready, we have that."
Whittingham said the Utes have a lot of depth at receiver, but he noted Denham would still be missed because the 6-foot-4, 231-pounder had the kind of game to succeed over the middle.
"He has good hands and runs well, and he'll be back at some point in time," he said. "We have to be patient and see what happens."
The Utes practiced at Rice-Eccles Stadium because the baseball field was too soggy after Thursday's rain. … Players can wear shoulder pads for Saturday's session, which will allow the coaches to evaluate players better, Whittingham said.