Johnson Not Expected To Play Much

FAYETTEVILLE -- Less than a week after being named starting quarterback, Robert Johnson may not start tonight's scrimmage in Reynolds Razorbacks Stadium at 6.

A sore groin caused Johnson to miss practice Wednesday and Thursday. The sophomore from Waco, Texas, also was limited during Friday's workout, participating in early passing drills only.

"(He) probably won't get very much," said Arkansas coach Houston Nutt, who named Johnson the starter ahead of redshirt freshman Alex Mortensen and true freshman Cole Barthel on Sunday. "It's important that he's healthy and I think that it's also equally important that Alex Mortensen gets these types of reps."

Although Johnson believes he could play through the pain, coaches and trainers will make the final decision. Johnson, who had hernia surgery in June, said he understands the importance of letting the injury heal completely.

"It felt pretty good (Friday)," Johnson said. "But sometimes you've got to just use common sense and not over do anything. I'd rather be able to rest it now and get it back healthy rather than having to deal with it the whole season."

Johnson is the only Hogs' quarterback with experience after playing in six games and completing 10 of 19 passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns last season. Mortensen redshirted last season, while the 23-year-old Barthel spent the past four years playing minor league baseball.

No matter how well Mortensen and Barthel do in today's scrimmage, Johnson will remain the No. 1 quarterback.

"All we're concerned about right now is getting Robert healthy and ready for the opener (Sept. 3 against Missouri State)," said quarterbacks coach Roy Wittke. "It's good that we're getting an opportunity to have those other kids get some time and get some work."

The first team will get between 20-25 plays and Mortensen is expected to take the bulk of those snaps. Coaches said he has come on strong in the last week.

"Alex may have had his best week of practice since he's been with us," Wittke said. "He just needs to take advantage of the chances he has and get better every day. Better in directing the offense, managing the team, executing the play and being consistent with it."

Mortensen said he'll try to capitalize on the opportunity and said the extra work with the first team the past few days has helped him progress.

"I'm just going to go out and react and trust my instincts," Mortensen said. "I've just got to put what I've learned to good use and I still have a lot of areas I've got to improve."

Injury Update
Starting right guard Zac Tubbs hasn't practiced since spraining his right ankle during a situational scrimmage a week ago and Nutt said he is questionable for the season opener. Junior Tyler Morgan will fill in for Tubbs with the first-team offense in today's scrimmage.

Offensive lineman Cody Green, a redshirt freshman who had lower back surgery Feb. 1, continues to have problems. For pain management, he had two bulging disks frozen through an epidural injection on Friday. Green hasn't practiced this preseason, but could return in two weeks.

Fullback Peyton Hillis missed Friday's practice with a stomach virus. His status for today's scrimmage is questionable.

Others who didn't practice Friday were fullback Brandon Kennedy (ankle), tailbacks Michael Smith (hamstring) and Korey Sutton (knee), and cornerbacks Lerinezo Robinson (shoulder) and Rick Culbert (shoulder). They're not expected to participate in today's scrimmage.

Return To Sender
Hillis, a 6-foot-2, 240-pounder, is expected to get a look as a punt returner since others have struggled catching the ball cleanly.

"It's going to be kind of unusual," said special teams coach James Shibest. "We're still working with the other guys, but we're just worried about securing the catch."

Michael Coe has shown consistency and may be the leading candidate ahead of Cedric Logan, Cedric Washington, Felix Jones, Darren McFadden and Reggie Fish.

"When it's on air and there's nobody coming, they've been good," Shibest said. "We went into live punting situation and we dropped two and that will cost you ball games. That's what concerns us.

"We don't want to put our team at risk."

Daily Grind
Coaches addressed players for nearly 15 minutes during a closed-door meeting at the end of Friday morning's practice.

"Some came in here a little sleepy this morning, but we finally picked it up there towards the end," Nutt said. "We're constantly trying to reach for that consistency level which we hadn't got yet. It's about coming to work every day, executing every day, taking care of your responsibility and that's the only thing we're disappointed about.

"We know two-a-days are hard."

The Hogs practiced for the 12th straight day Friday, a stretch that includes eight practices in the last five days. But Nutt gave the Razorbacks the afternoon off, canceling the scheduled workout to take the team bowling.

Fan Day
Arkansas closes its second week of practice with its annual Fan Day in front of the Tyson Poultry Science Building, north of Razorback Stadium. Players, coaches, mascots and the spirit squads will be available to sign autographs and pose for pictures from 10 a.m. to noon.

To watch the scrimmage, fans can enter through Gates 1, 6 and 10 on the west side of the stadium and sit on the lower west side only. Gates will open at 5 p.m.

Grid Bits
Senior Clarke Moore is expected to work with the second team behind Anthony Brown at defensive end in today's scrimmage ... Free safety Elston Forte, a true freshman, continues to impress coaches and will see time on the second team behind free safety Randy Kelley ... After moving from linebacker to safety at the start of the preseason, true freshman De'Andre Bryant has spent the past few practices at defensive end ... Snaps will be limited for defensive tackles Marcus Harrison (shin) and Fred Bledsoe (foot) today. Both have been slowed by injuries.

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