Howard To Miss Spring

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas' offense is entering a new era this spring after the departure of three-year starter Matt Jones.

But the new era also will begin with its leading returning rusher watching spring practices from the sidelines.

Senior tailback De'Arrius Howard will miss spring drills after undergoing surgery to correct a dislocated shoulder. Arkansas trainer Dean Weber said Howard injured his shoulder lifting weights during Christmas break.

"We thought it would correct itself with rehab, but it didn't," Weber said. "So we thought the time was right and (Howard) had surgery."

Howard bounced back from a disappointing sophomore season to rush for 529 yards and 6 touchdowns on 124 attempts in 2004. He led Arkansas tailbacks in rushing and finished second on the team behind Jones (622 yards).

Weber said the typical timetable for recovery from shoulder surgery is 5-6 months. Coach Houston Nutt said Howard should be ready in time for preseason practices, which begin next August.

"Any time you have surgery it's a big deal. But he should be fine," Nutt said.

Howard, who is a frontrunner for the starting job along with sophomore Peyton Hillis, is one of four players expected to miss spring practice because of offseason surgeries. In December, Weber said linebacker Clarke Moore (knee), defensive tackle Jeremy Harrell (shoulder) and running back Korey Sutton (knee) wouldn't be participating in contact work.

In addition, Weber said cornerback Chris Houston underwent surgery for a double hernia and will miss some offseason conditioning. But the sophomore, who recorded 21 tackles in eight games last season, could be available for spring practice.

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