Johnson Prepares To Return

Arkansas' running game could get a boost this weekend with the return of redshirt junior Dennis Johnson, who has not played a game in over a year and was finally able to go through his first in-season practice on Tuesday.

It has been almost a year since Dennis Johnson has been healthy enough to play a football game for Arkansas, but it's looking like he's going to be in action on Saturday night.

Johnson worked out with his team Tuesday and feels like his hamstring is healed enough that he is going to be able to play when Troy visits Fayetteville this weekend.

"It's been hard to watch (this year) just like it last year was hard to watch," Johnson said. "I've just been trying to cheer the team on on the sidelines, but now it is time to go out and play."

Arkansas running backs coach Tim Horton was certainly glad to see the 5-8, 190-pound redshirt junior back at practice.

"We had Dennis out there for the first time in a month," Horton said. "It was really nice. He did a good job. We had him on a limited basis. Now we'll see how he is as far as soreness."

Johnson feels like he moved around well and is anxious to go all out on Wednesday.

"I went at it at a pretty steady pace, just testing it to see where I was," Johnson said. "It felt good and tomorrow hopefully I can go full speed."

Horton knows that Johnson has wanted to be out on the field since he had a season-ending bowel injury in last season's week two game.

"It's been a tough year for Dennis," Horton said. "He got hurt last year (at this point) and it's been a full year without playing in a game. He had a real good summer and we are sure glad to have him back now."

Johnson was injured on a kickoff return – something he hopes to be doing on Saturday night.

"I did it today," Johnson said. "We did kickoff return and I did it today. I was back there and they didn't say leave."

He was thrilled to see freshman Marquel Wade take a kickoff 85 yards to the house last week against New Mexico.

"I was very excited to see him take it back," Johnson said. "I know I have got somebody back there beside me who can take it back."

Johnson noted that hamstring injuries are maddening because you have to wait them out.

"Really you can't do anything for a hamstring, but rest it," Johnson said. "If you go back out and try to run full speed again before it's ready, the injury just keeps reoccurring and reoccurring so you just have to keep resting it."

Johnson believes he saw improvement from fellow tailbacks Ronnie Wingo, De'Anthony Curtis and Kody Walker from game one to game two.

"I have seen a progression since the first game," Johnson said. "The first game they were just getting back into the groove, but in the second game, they were running it like they were really ready to run. I just want to come in and help and do everything I can to help the running game."

Horton said a healthy Johnson would certainly do that for one reason.

"He looked fresh," Horton said. "He should have had real fresh legs. We just hopes he continues to make progress. He can help us because he is real good with the ball under his arms."

Offensive lineman Grant Cook echoes that sentiment.

"He looked really good out there today," Cook said. "That is just another horse in the stable with our running backs. We are confident in all of them – DA, Wingo, DJ and when (wide receiver) Joe (Adams) gets at running back for us, too. All of those guys are confident running backs that can get out there and get the job done for us."

o o o

Cook was very proud to be selected to carry the flag before Saturday's game after being asked to do so by Razorback director of football operations Mark Robinson.

"It was a great feeling and a true honor," Cook said. "Mark came to me before the game and told me he wanted me to do it and I was gung ho to do it."

"I absolutely obliged and was honored to do it."

Grant Cook

Dennis Johnson

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