Cedric Cobbs and De'Arrius Howard did not practice Tuesday, but the two Arkansas tailbacks have not been ruled out for Saturday's game at Ole Miss.
"Dean Weber, our trainer, is hopeful, but we are preparing to go without them," said Houston Nutt, the Arkansas coach. "That's the way you must think at this point. If you can't practice on Tuesday or Wednesday, then it doesn't look good. At this point I'd be surprised if they do play. That's my thinking."
The Hogs looked at both DeCori Birmingham and Brandon Holmes at tailback in the full contact part of the workout. Later, when there was no contact, both Mark Pierce and Kyle Dickerson, both nursing minor injuries, saw the bulk of the work at tailback. Holmes spent the last half of the workout on defense.
"We looked at DeCori and Brandon for insurance," Nutt said. "We know that Brandon has some recall from his days at tailback. There are two or three plays that he is comfortable with and we let him practice those at the start of the workout. We have confidence in Brandon and we know that DeCori can help us at tailback if we need him."
Jimarr Gallon (ankle) and John Johnson (shoulder) both left the workout with sprains. Gallon's injury appeared to be serious, but Weber said that the extent won't be known until they assess swelling on Wednesday.
Nutt said the workout was excellent and that the players "bounced around and had good focus. We had a good day. We had some guys step up today. When you get to this point in the season, you are going to have some bumps and bruises and you need guys to step forward. That happened for us today with DeCori and Brandon."
Cobbs looked like he might be ready when he jogged into the stadium midway through the workout and began to run the stadium steps. He did four to five trips up and down the stadium steps before rejoining the team to watch the final periods of the workout.
Despite suggestions from some quarters that Matt Jones might not do interviews, the junior quarterback stepped forward to handle any requests, including those from reporters from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Asked about criticism of his play of late, Jones said, "That comes with the territory. You have to take the good with the bad (at this position). I understand that. I'm ready to play again."
Nutt was asked if Jones' demeanor on the sideline makes him a misunderstood player. The coach responded that it was a good question and talked at length about Jones.
"He's a competitor," Nutt said. "I love Matt Jones. His intensity level is there. You just don't see it all the time. He's not like everyone. He is different. But what I do know about him is that he cares about his team and his teammates. Matt is a winner and he cares. He doesn't purposely show an attitude that he doesn't care. He does a great job for us. There are some things I wish he'd do better and he and I have talked about them. I do know this ... he keeps getting better every game and we expect that to continue. I love Matt Jones."
Jones said he looked forward to this week's game since there "are good memories from the last time we were there." The Hogs defeated the Rebels in seven overtimes two years ago in a game in which Jones played well.
"But those memories don't mean a lot for this game," Jones said. "We better treat it as another game and not think about the last time."
Does he get motivated to go against Eli Manning, perhaps one of the league's top quarterback along with Georgia's David Greene?
"I don't know if you ever want to play against someone as good as Eli," Jones said. "He's a great, great player. I wish we were playing someone else and then ... "
At that, teammate Caleb Miller grabbed Jones as he was walking by. Miller said, "Matt will do well ... and I'm glad he's our quarterback. By the way, I'll be playing against Eli. Matt won't."
The other Razorback receiving scrutiny this week is free safety Tony Bua. Secondary coach Bobby Allen understands the reasons.
"Tony made a bad decision at the end of our last game, and he understands that," Allen said. "He wishes he could have that one back. What he has to make sure is that he doesn't make the same mistake twice.
"When I view Tony as a player over the course of the season, I think he's done pretty good. He's been our most productive player in the secondary. What you hope is that he doesn't make plays that put the team in a bad decision and he understands he did that.
"The people who have watched Tony for four years ... they all know that Tony is an aggressive player. That is his calling card. On that play, it wasn't a good decision. He can't do it again. He's the best we have there, but he also understands that if he continues to make plays like that, we will put someone else out there."
Tuesday Grid Report, 10/21
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