Razorbacks Ready To Don Pads

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas gets down to more serious business today when it starts fall drills in pads.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas gets down to more serious business today when it starts fall drills in pads.

Razorbacks coach Houston Nutt said his team is ready.

"We'll take it up a notch," Nutt said. "These guys are anxious to tackle. You can tell, really, ever since we've had the shoulder pads on, they're ready to hit.

"We'll start in pads tomorrow (today). And we're going to go a little bit earlier, we'll go probably in the afternoon. It gives us more time to recover for two-a-days."

Razorbacks tailback Felix Jones said he's looking forward to full contact drills.

"It's good to be excited," Jones said. "We've just got the helmets on (now) and it's not a lot of contact. So, you can't have a real feel for the game yet. When you put on the pads it's going to be a different momentum.

"You're going to be able to hit someone and see how it really is in the SEC (Southeastern Conference)."

Nutt said the Razorbacks will start practice at around 3:30 p.m. today. The Hogs will begin two-a-day practices Saturday and a short, goal-line scrimmage.

Arkansas worked out later Thursday, ending practice shortly after 8 p.m.

"Another good day today," Nutt said. "I love their attitude, and the way they have been coming to practice. We still have a long, long, long way to go, but they are sure coming to work."

Defense Improving
First-year Razorbacks defensive coordinator Reggie Herring said his group is making gradual progress.

"Today was something to build on," Herring said. "The kids are taking a little more pride in their work.

"The first day was today, we actually looked like it's important to us and we are trying to make a step forward. It's been gradual."

Herring said defensive end Anthony Brown, a converted wide receiver, has made the most impact.

"I don't think there's any doubt that the guy who's been tempo setting is Anthony Brown," Herring said. "I mean, the guy plays like a pro. Every snap it's full speed.

"The guy's got an incredible work habit."

Backs Banged Up, Bruised
Arkansas' deep backfield was a little thinner Thursday because Brandon Kennedy, Michael Smith and Korey Sutton missed practice with minor injuries.

Kennedy, who has played in 36 career games and is Arkansas' best blocking fullback, was held out after injuring his ankle late in Wednesday's workout. Trainer Dean Weber said Kennedy isn't expected to miss much time.

Sutton, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament last season, re-injured the same knee Wednesday. Weber said the injuries were unrelated, but Sutton will undergo an imaging scan on his right knee today.

Smith aggravated a hamstring injury that he originally injured in high school. Nutt said the injury wasn't serious, but the Hogs will likely keep Smith on the sideline today in hopes that he'll return to work Saturday.

"I tell you what, he didn't want to sit out. It wasn't his choice. They love to play football. We had to really sit him down and tell him, 'Listen, it's best for you if you don't practice today.' He wants to practice."

In addition, Weber said cornerback Chris Houston was sidelined because of soreness stemming from off-season hernia surgery. Weber said Houston will visit with his surgeon tomorrow and isn't sure when he'll return to practice.

Green Returns
Offensive linemen Cody Green made his practice debut Thursday after missing the first three days because of a bulging disc in his back.

The 6-foot-6, 325-pound Green underwent back surgery on Feb. 1 and was held out of spring practice. Weber said Green still is having trouble with his lower back, but will try to practice after seeking a second opinion from another doctor this week.

"He has a couple of options," Weber said. "You can live with (bulging discs) and try to play with them. The other option would be to try some Cortizone injections. Option No. 3 is, let's take a look in there and if anything's deficient, let's repair it.

"Right now, he and his family have decided this is what we want to do. We want to see if he can play with it this year."

Weber said Green participated in four of Arkansas' five-minute practice periods on Thursday and will try to do a little more each day. If Green's back is giving him too much trouble, Weber said the Hogs will move to their second option and try giving him Cortizone shots to ease the pain.

Green entered the preseason behind left guards Stephen Parker and Chase Pressley on the preseason depth chart.

"He's going to give it a shot," Nutt said. "That's a good sign. He does have some problems with his lower back, but I love this team's attitude and work ethic.

"We really need that body."

Just For Kicks
Apparently, true freshman placekicker Will Moore is pressing senior Chris Balseiro during the first week of practice. Nutt said Thursday that Moore, who is a walk-on from Searcy, is "creating some pressure there."

Nutt said he has been impressed with Moore's strong leg, but also said Balseiro had a good practice Wednesday. Balseiro made 40 of 41 extra points last season and was 4 of 7 on field goals.

Happy Birthday
Razorbacks quarterback Cole Barthel celebrated his 23rd birthday Thursday.

Barthel, a true freshman from Decatur, Ala., spent the past four seasons playing professional baseball in the Atlanta Braves' organization.

The 6-foot-2, 205 pounder was picked in the second round of the 2001 Major League First-Year Player Draft. In his brief pro baseball career, Barthel hit .251 with 5 home runs and 36 RBIs.

"Being 23? It's no big deal," Barthel said. "I don't think about that at all. I feel like a freshman."

So, how was he going to celebrate Thursday night?

"I don't know," he said. "That might have to wait, if I do anything. Not tonight, we had a long practice today.

"I might get something to eat, that's about it.

"Nothing else."

Former Hogs quarterback Robby Hampton, who lettered in 1999 and 2000, also arrived on the Arkansas campus after trying his hand at pro baseball. Hampton spent four years in the Toronto Blue Jays' organization.

Happy Landing
Herring was one person with a vested interest in the space shuttle Discovery having a successful landing in California earlier this week.

After all, he is a 1977 gradate of Astronaut High School in Titusville, Fla.

So, was he paying attention?

"Always," Herring said. "I used to get on the roof as a kid and watch it. Titusville is about 15 miles, 10 miles, 15 miles from Cape Canaveral.

"I always watch the shuttle. My dad's a military man. We take a lot of pride in that.

" That's something we always watch."

By The Numbers
Arkansas has two players listed on the roster who wear No. 1. Problem is, both are on offense.

Dedrick Poole, a 5-foot-10, 193-pound senior tailback and Reggie Fish, a 5-7, 154-pound true freshman flanker, both wear No. 1.

Kevin Thornton, a 6-2, 190-pound freshman strong safety and redshirt freshman quarterback Alex Mortensen both wear No. 7.

The last two notable Arkansas players wearing the same number in a game were cornerback Ahmad Carroll and wide receiver Richard Smith. Both wore No. 8.

Robbie Neiswanger also contributed to this report.

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