Hogs Johnson Remains On Sidelines

FAYETTEVILLE -- Perhaps the biggest question coming out of Thursday's practice is whether Arkansas' first-team quarterback Robert Johnson will be available for Saturday's scrimmage.

For the second straight day, Johnson, a sophomore, was held out of practice because a sore groin.

So, will he play Saturday?

Apparently, it's still too early to tell and he remains questionable.

"It's a day-by-day basis. I'm doing my rehab every day all day trying to get it back," Johnson said. "It's healed, but the strength and the endurance isn't back like it used to. Going two (practices), one (practice), two, one, two, one is kind of hard on it. But I tried to get out there. But you have to use common sense sometimes."

Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said Johnson will wait and see how he feels after today's practice before determining how much he could play Saturday.

"(Arkansas trainer) Dean (Weber) thought he (Johnson) could go today, but wanted to hold him for another day or two," Nutt said. "We'll see how he feels tomorrow. He's anxious and wants to get back out here. It's just a bad groin pull and you want to make sure the next time he comes out here he has the endurance to practice and to not go back into the training room. That's just a precaution.

"He's still our No. 1 guy."

Razorbacks receiver Marcus Monk said it probably is best to take precautions with Johnson.

"It's best for him so that he can get back to 100 percent," Monk said. "He's over there on the sideline taking mental reps. He wants to get out there. He wants to practice today. They told him to sit out for a little bit.

"They know what's best for him.

"He wants to be out there, but it's best for him to make sure everything's all right with him."

Nutt again said he was pleased with the continuing progress of redshirt freshman Alex Mortensen, who has picked up the extra snaps and has used this opportunity to improve his game.

"It's very helpful and he's (Mortensen) done an excellent job. I'm really proud of him with the decisions he's making right now. He did a great job with the two-minute drills today. This is the kind of experience he needs."

Motensen, who suffered from a sore knee earlier, said he feels better now and that it's contributed to him throwing the ball better.

Switching Up
Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring said he's going to hold starting linebackers Sam Olajubutu and Pierre Brown out of Saturday's scrimmage, giving true freshmen Freddie Fairchild and Tyrell Graham a chance to earn extra work.

The freshmen are currently in backup roles and will be counted on to play this season because of little depth at linebacker. Herring knows what Brown and Olajubutu can do and wants to give Fairchild and Graham as much work as possible.

"I'm going to rest Pierre and Sam and give them pups a chance to see if they can execute under pressure in the stadium," Herring said.

In addition, Herring said Saturday's scrimmage will also be big for reserve defensive ends Zach Snider and Clarke Moore. Herring said he has been disappointed with Snider, who moved from linebacker in the spring, during the preseason. But he said Moore has been improving at the position after moving from linebacker.

"If (Snider) doesn't pick it up, he has Clarke Moore snipping at his heels," Herring said. "Who right now, at this point in time, has had a better camp than him? This scrimmage is big for both of them."

Safety Valve
Herring also said cornerback Matterral Richardson, who has been working with the first-team defense, is a candidate to play safety, if needed.

Richardson is currently Arkansas' linebacker in their dime package and the sophomore would be the safety valve if needed in the back. Herring said he wouldn't be worried about losing Richardson at corner because the position is stocked with players like Darius Vinnett, Michael Coe, Michael Grant and John Johnson.

"If Kelly or Vickiel go down, that would be, right now, that would be our move," Herring said. "But things can change. Matterral goes to safety. Quality player at safety then we just bump one of those corners up and go."

Welcome Back
Grant and Vinnett returned to practice on Thursday. Grant has been out with an injury to his left pinky while Vinnett has been hampered with tendinitis in both knees.

Also, tailback DeArrius Howard (groin) returned to workouts.

"This is my first practice since about Tuesday, the first Tuesday of two-a-days," Vinnett said. "It felt great to get back out there being out there with the guys.

"I was just trying to get healthy."

On The Sidelines
Among the others missing Thursday were senior fullback Brandon Kennedy (sore ankle), senior cornerback Lerienzo Robinson (sore right shoulder), freshman tailback Korey Sutton (knee) and defensive tackle Marcus Harrison, who is still resting a bruised shin.

Hogs On The Tube
Arkansas will be featured on FSN Southwest (Cox Cable Ch. 27) today and early next week.

At noon today, the network will air a 30-minute preview show of the Razorbacks' season.

It will air again on the same channel at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The special will feature interviews with Arkansas coach Nutt, senior center Kyle Roper and senior free safety Vickiel Vaughn.

Fan Appreciation Day
The annual Razorback Fan Day is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday.

At 6 p.m. Saturday, the football team will scrimmage in Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The scrimmage is open to the public.

An autograph session will be held in the Tyson Poultry Science Building across from Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Coaches, players, mascots and the spirit squads will be in attendance to sign autographs and pose for pictures.

Razorbacks schedule posters and bumper stickers will be given away at the entrance. Soft drinks and food will be served during the event.

Fans can enter the stadium gates open at 5 p.m. for the scrimmage through Gates 1, 6 and 10 on the west side. Seating for the scrimmage will be limited to the lower west side only, not east side as previously stated.

Parking is available in Lot 44, in front of Razorback Stadium, and in Lots 72 and 73, on Razorback Rd.

For more information, call the Razorback Fan Line at 479-575-FANS.


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