Damond Powell

Iowa receiver Damond Powell catches a pass during Saturday's open practice in Iowa City.

Receivers impress: Iowa defenders are working to catch up to the wrinkles that sophomore Tevaun Smith and junior college transfer Damond Powell are providing the Hawkeyes' offense.

“They’re deep threats, anytime they have the ball in their hands,’’ cornerback B.J. Lowery said following Saturday’s open practice at Kinnick Stadium. “Both of those guys are doing a real good job and Powell, he’s pretty fast. I don’t know what his 40 (yard dash) time is, but he is making our 40s better.’’

Smith and Powell were among a number of receivers who found themselves making plays Saturday.

Coach Kirk Ferentz said returning players, notably Kevonte Martin-Manley and senior Don Shumpert, have had strong fall camps as well.

“We have a number of guys there doing well,’’ Ferentz said. “We’ll have some things to talk about when we sort everybody out there.’’

Powell averaged a national junior college-best 30 yards per reception last season at Snow College.

Missing in action: Minor injuries kept a handful of Hawkeyes off of the field Saturday, including offensive lineman Conor Boffeli, defensive lineman Riley McMinn and running back Barkley Hill.

Ferentz characterized the setbacks as “normal camp-type injuries,’’ nothing long term.

Offensive lineman Eric Simmons left Saturday’s workout with a knee injury.

Plenty of positions: Iowa’s Damon Bullock has found himself lining up in a number of positions so far this camp, splitting time between running back and receiver.

“It’s been about 50-50,’’ Bullock said. “I’m comfortable with wherever they need me to go. We’re trying to mix things up a bit on offense and it’s coming along for us.’’

When Bullock opened at receiver, that allowed Mark Weisman and Jordan Canzeri to see more snaps at running back.

Waiting for the boom: Explosive plays have been an objective of the Hawkeyes throughout spring and fall camps, and developing the ability for big gains on a more consistent basis remains a work in progress.

“We’re not there yet,’’ Ferentz said. “We have our moments, but we’re not at the level where we need to be there.’’

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Adding to the class: Iowa picked up the 12th verbal commitment for its 2014 recruiting class Saturday when Aaron Mends, a 6-foot-1, 204-pound linebacker from Winnetonka High School in Kansas City, Mo., announced on Twitter that he plans to sign with the Hawkeyes.

Ranked as a three-star recruit by Rivals.com, Mends picked Iowa over offers from Iowa State and North Dakota State.

Q-C connection: Freshman Derrick Willies out of Rock Island found his way into the end zone late in Iowa’s practice.

Working with a unit which included true freshman quarterback Nic Shimonek, the receiver made a couple of nice moves after catching a ball over the middle to score on a 58-yard pass play.

Another true freshman, Akrum Wadley, scored on a similar short pass and lengthy run later. The New Jersey prep scored from 64 yards out.

— Steve Batterson