Arkansas will don full pads Monday afternoon, but they were in shorts, shoulder pads and helmets for one final tuneup Monday morning.
The news was mixed. The bad news was apparent by checking behind the offensive backfield in team drills. Both Fred Talley and Brandon Holmes watched the workout with injuries. Talley reinjured the same shoulder that bothered him last fall, and sat out all of the workout. Talley will be rechecked by doctors today. Holmes has a minor hamstring strain. Neither will practice Monday afternoon.
However, the rest of the news was outstanding. Quarterback coach David Lee called Monday's workout "the best passing day that I've been a part of at Arkansas." He said there was crispness to the workout from the start to the end.
"I thought we were good throwing and catching against air at the start, great in individual, great in pass skeleton and great in team," Lee said. "I'm talking about all three quarterbacks. Matt Jones was in there for most of it. He'd been resting his arm and we didn't let him throw any yesterday, so he got a little more this morning. We probably left him in there too long in team, but he had a good day, as did the other two quarterbacks.
"Don't read too much into anything you see as far as reps. I go by feel sometimes. I pull them in practice based on a feel for the next play, who I might want, or if I think a guy's arm might be getting tired. Don't read anything into the number of plays for each guy."
Lee said that there shouldn't be too much read into the depth chart at this point in the quarterback battle between Tarvaris Jackson, Ryan Sorahan and Jones.
"I've never changed a depth chart when we've been in shorts," he said. "We need to see a lot more to make any changes. We are going to put on full pads this afternoon and put the ball down for some scrimmages this week. We'll know more this week."
Wideout coach James Shibest was pleased with the workout, too.
"We still had some drops, and we are working to eliminate them," he said. "We talk about what we expect, and it's no more than one per every 25 throws. So, far we aren't there. I'd say George Wilson and Carlos Ousley are natural pass catchers ... I mean they catch them all. The others have to be into it, and if they come to practice with a lazy mind, they drop some. Sparky Hamilton is doing well, but he's still had some drops the last couple of days. He just has to get a lot of reps.
"One thing I'll say about the receivers, they run better routes than they did in the spring. They had a great summer and they worked on the things we gave them in the spring. They know their routes and they are running them the right way. I've been pleased with that. I can tell they worked hard this summer."
Houston Nutt said trainers expect Ousley to be back at practice in the next day or two, and may see action in Monday afternoon's scrimmage.
"We will put the full pads on this afternoon, and the guys are ready for it," Nutt said. "We will scrimmage for 10, 12, 15, 20 snaps this afternoon."
Both Nutt and Lee said the decision to give Matt Jones' sore shoulder some rest has been beneficial.
"It's better," Lee said. "The thing we have to watch is the other guys, too. Ryan Sorahan's elbow was sore today and we cut back on his throwing a little bit. This is the time when quarterbacks usually get a tired arm, during this point in two-a-days. Now that we are in full pads, we'll begin to concentrate more on the running game, and that will take something off their arms."
Nutt said, "Matt says he's ready to go, that he's fine now, but we want to take it easy with him. I think you can see that he's better. A day off yesterday from throwing helped all of them."
There was very little passing in Sunday's brief workout that concentrated on special team work.
Shibest said he likes Lawrence Richardson and Decori Birmingham as punt returners.
"I really like Decori," Shibest said. "I think he could be the one, but it's too early."
Monday Morning Grid Report, 8/19
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