Jones Returns to Closed Practice

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones handed the ball off a few times, tossed a handful of passes and lightly jogged from drill to drill.

There wasn't much else to decipher from the first 20 minutes of Wednesday's workout, the senior's first since pulling a groin during Arkansas' 38-20 loss at Auburn last Saturday. That's because Jones' return to the field coincided with coach Houston Nutt's decision to close practices the rest of the week.

"We just need every advantage we can get," Nutt said.

Jones remained questionable for Saturday's game against No. 10 Georgia, but Nutt was glad to get the SEC's leader in total offense (274.3 yards a game) back to practice. Arkansas will likely keep its quarterback plans secretive until kickoff on Saturday and continue to monitor Jones' health on a day-to-day basis.

Nutt answered a few questions about his starter Wednesday with, "I don't know," and said, "possibly," when asked if Jones and redshirt freshman Robert Johnson will play against the Bulldogs. Johnson continued to take snaps with the first-team offense during practice and will earn his first career start if Jones can't play.

"It's one of those aggravating injuries that makes you not full speed," Nutt said about Jones' groin injury. "Matt's a quick healer. I expect him to be pretty close to full speed Saturday. I don't know that for sure."

Said Johnson: "I've talked to him a lot. It's still bothering him. But he wants to play a lot. We'll have to wait until Saturday to see I guess."

Jones isn't available to the media after Tuesday.

On Wednesday morning, Georgia coach Mark Richt said he believed Jones will play despite the injury. The Bulldogs will continue to prepare for Arkansas' offensive system and Richt added any quarterback "besides Jones would probably be a blessing really."

Arkansas center Kyle Roper said the quarterbacks split time Wednesday and Jones was participating in drills based on how he felt. Roper said the Hogs believe both Jones and Johnson will do a good job Saturday if called upon.

"I think that if Matt feels like he can play, he should play," Roper said. "If it's hurting, I don't see why we should try to chance it and have him miss this game and be out for more. Robert is just as good and can do everything.

"It's a plus on our part if (Jones) does start. If not, Robert's going to step in and do a good job."

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