If there's any indication that this season might be different for Cal wide receiver Michael Calvin, it's that he had perfect attendance during training camp.
Calvin has made a habit of starting seasons on the wrong note because of an assortment of injuries throughout his career. Now a fifth-year senior, Calvin didn't miss a play of practice during camp and has locked down the No. 3 wide receiver job behind starters Marvin Jones and Keenan Allen.
"Michael is doing great. He's the reason why we have more depth there," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "His experience has been limited because he's had some injuries. I think he plays with a lot more confidence."
Jones and Allen give the Bears one of the top receiving tandems in the Pac-12, but when the Bears' offense has been at its best over the years, they've been able to go deep into their receiving corps. Calvin and Cal's other backups weren't very productive last season, forcing the Bears to go with just Jones and Allen most of the time.
"I feel like in spring ball and fall camp, I've given them a reason to have more confidence throwing a third guy out there," Calvin said. "Obviously, last year I wasn't too consistent. I didn't get thrown out there a lot. I think that's what they wanted to see, and now they have a lot of confidence that they can throw me out there."
Big things were expected of Calvin when he arrived at Cal in 2007. After redshirting, he got off to a slow start in 2008 because of a toe injury. Then he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee halfway through the season.
In 2009, he had to get his knee scoped twice and finished with one catch for 9 yards. He was bothered by a groin injury last year and had 13 catches for 147 yards.
Now in his final season, Calvin is content to make the most of whatever chances he gets.
"I definitely feel a sense of urgency because obviously I didn't produce a lot in my career," Calvin said. "I'll make plays when the time comes. I can only control what I do when he puts me on the field."
"He had a little nerf ball, and we'd play catch after practice every day," Tedford said of Derek.
Carr, a redshirt sophomore, will make his first career start Saturday against Cal. Junior quarterback Zach Maynard will make his first start for the Bears.
"I really don't know exactly what Derek can do," Tedford said. "I watched him play in high school. We recruited him. So I know he's a good player, and I know he can run. But it's not so much about the quarterback. It's about the whole schematic of being able to slow them down."