Woods Hopeful Of Returning Saturday

FAYETTEVILLE -- The thought of lowering his sore shoulder and colliding with Mississippi State's hard-charging running backs didn't make Arkansas free safety Kevin Woods cringe Wednesday.

But sitting on the Arkansas sideline for a second straight game because of a dislocated shoulder did. That's why the senior said he's planning to play -- sore shoulder and all -- against the Bulldogs.

"I don't think about it," Woods said. "There's no fear in my heart. If it's going to pop out, it's going to pop out anyway.

"It's happened so much, it's like, I'm accustomed to the pain. It happened before. I'm not going to die. It's just going to pop out. I'm going to rehab again and get ready to play."

Woods missed the Tennessee game because of the shoulder, which popped out of place against South Carolina on Nov. 3. It has been a recurring problem for Woods, who said it hurt so much last week that he had to "take a break" to let it heal in hopes of playing Saturday.

But Woods' return would be a valuable addition to Arkansas' defense, which struggled at Tennessee. He is fifth on the team in tackles (53), but, more importantly, has been a steady hand at a key position.

Defensive coordinator Reggie Herring said sophomore Rashaad Johnson still will start his second straight game Saturday. But Herring is hoping Woods will be able to play some against Mississippi State.

"Watch pregame because with Kevin Woods, it'll be pregame," Herring said. "We've worked him at second team (this week). He still looks a little funny trying to lift his shoulder. He has not had contact in two weeks. We've kept him out of contact. ... The first time he'll take a hit on that separated shoulder will be in pregame, and the last time he did that he was out on the ground over there with the trainers.

"To say he's back, that's a wait-and-see."

But Woods said he doesn't want to watch from the sideline again.

"It hurts my heart to sit out there and watch my team and know I can help them win," Woods said. "I'm just sitting on the sidelines. Just thinking about it right now, it just hurt. It hurt real bad.



EXTRA POINTS

Sophomore Wendel Davis earned his first start at weakside linebacker against Tennessee, but Herring said Elston Forte will move back in the lineup against Mississippi State. ... Left tackle Jose Valdez didn't practice for the second straight day and is doubtful for Saturday's game. Senior Robert Felton worked in his place at left tackle, while redshirt freshman DeMarcus Love filled in at right guard. ... Receiver London Crawford practiced after missing the past three games with a knee injury. In addition, receiver Robert Johnson practiced after missing Tuesday's workout because of an ankle injury.

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