Larry Fedora wants North Carolina to play fast. The Tar Heels started his second preseason camp by practicing that way.
North Carolina held its first practice of camp Thursday and Fedora says the players are "moving around a whole lot faster and there's a whole lot less thinking."
"The older guys, there's no thinking involved," he said. "They know exactly what they're doing and they're able to do it fast."
North Carolina went 8-4 in Fedora's first season but was ineligible for a bowl game or the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game because of NCAA sanctions. The Tar Heels enter his second year picked to finish third in a tightly bunched Coastal Division.
They're the first of the state's five Bowl Subdivision teams to begin preseason practice, and the priority on the first day was showing the coach how much they've absorbed in the 3½ months since the spring game.
"From where we left off during spring ball, you start looking to see how much work a kid really put in over the summer as far as ... how much does he know at this point," Fedora said. "You're looking for recall these first days. They're all moving around. They're going to move around great in shorts and it's Day 1. The energy level's good but it's always going to be good on Day 1."
It's far too early for players to lock up spots on the depth chart, but one of Fedora's top priorities is settling on a replacement for running back Gio Bernard - who also returned two punts for touchdowns last season, including one in the final seconds to beat rival North Carolina State.
Three players - sophomore T.J. Thorpe and freshmen T.J. Logan and Ryan Switzer - returned punts Thursday and Fedora said that "just in the little bit I saw today, we'll be able to find somebody out of that group."
North Carolina's instate rivals will get to work in the coming few days. Wake Forest, East Carolina and North Carolina State start practice Friday and Duke will hold its first workout Monday.
The Demon Deacons will begin without their leading rusher from last season.
Team spokesman Steve Shutt said running back Josh Harris is ineligible for his senior season but was prevented from saying if it's related to academics because of the school's policies on student privacy.
The school has asked the NCAA for a waiver to restore his eligibility, Shutt said, and hopes to hear a decision in the next two weeks.
Harris has rushed for 1,760 yards and 15 touchdowns in three seasons and had a team-best 608 yards in 2012.