Johnson, Monk Return To Practice In Pads

FAYETTEVILLE -- For the first time in a while, Arkansas had wide receivers Robert Johnson and Marcus Monk dressed in shoulder pads, going through practice as usual.

Of course, that doesn't mean that both seniors will be healthy enough to play Saturday night against No. 22 Auburn.

Johnson was bothered last week by a severe muscle strain in his lower right leg. But he didn't show any signs of discomfort during the first part of Tuesday's practice.

The wide receiver, who was held out of last Saturday's 34-15 win over Tennessee-Chattanooga, had no problems jogging and running through a rope ladder early in practice. He also didn't walk with a noticeable limp like last week.

"I felt good," Johnson said. "Just a little sore, just getting back out there and getting used to (practice) again."

Despite missing last Saturday's victory with the leg injury, Johnson is listed on Arkansas' depth chart as the starting flanker against Auburn.

"Good to have him back," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "Our receivers have been depleted a little bit with injury, but (it's) good to have him back out there along with those other guys."

The sight of Monk practicing in shoulder pads was even more surprising.

The senior, who is still rehabbing from his second arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, has participated in practice this season. But he usually wears just a T-shirt and shorts.

Monk appeared to have no trouble, though, going through a drill in a T-shirt, shoulder pads and shorts on Tuesday afternoon. He also had his right knee wrapped, but it wasn't a full brace as usual.

"He's a little bit better this week than he was last week," Nutt said. "Does that mean he's going to play (Saturday)? Probably not, but (he's) getting closer.

"It's a good feeling just to see him with pads on."

Arkansas offensive coordinator David Lee said it's been tough for quarterback Casey Dick to find a go-to receiver because Johnson, Monk and freshman Crosby Tuck have all missed games this season with injuries.

Lee said he thought a few weeks ago that Johnson would emerge as that No. 1 target, but then the senior got hurt.

"You always see a quarterback's got his receiver. This is his guy, this is his guy," Lee said. "I don't know if Casey has got his guy right now because it has been difficult."

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