Wednesday Grid Update, 11/21

Arkansas worked inside Walker Pavilion on Wednesday. Tailback Felix Jones continued to improve.

Arkansas escaped the rain and cold wind by moving into Walker Pavilion for their last workout of the week Wednesday with what Arkansas coach Houston Nutt called solid preparation. The Hogs play at No. 1-ranked LSU on Friday.

"Thank goodness for Walker Pavilion," Nutt said. "It's the MVP today.

"We've had a good week. We've been sharp, attentive. Our players are feeling good."

In general attitudes and practices have been solid with the players looking forward to the game versus the nation's top team.

"I think that is something that adds to motivation, playing the top team," Nutt said. "It's on national TV and everyone is going to be watching. I think our team is really looking forward to that."

The Hogs will have Thanksgiving Day dinner on Thursday at a local hotel before heading for the airport around the middle of the day. They arrive in Baton Rouge, La., around 2 p.m. Thursday. They will not practice Thursday. The Hogs have plans to attend a movie Thursday afternoon in Baton Rouge.

The Hogs will have a relatively healthy team for the trip to Louisiana. Nutt said Felix Jones, junior tailback, is improving by the day after sustaining a bruised thigh against Tennessee. Jones played only one down versus Mississippi State. Jones has practiced every day this week.

Asked if Felix Jones was now back to being Felix Jones, Nutt said, "Real close. We hope he's close to 100 percent by Friday at 1:41 p.m., that he's real close to 100 percent."

Nutt said cornerback Jerrell Norton was "ready to go" and will also be close to 100 percent by kickoff. The coach said defensive end Malcolm Sheppard was "further away" but felt that he, too, would be able to play against LSU.

Left tackle Jose Valdez, hobbled with an ankle injury since late in the South Carolina game, has returned to practice this week, but the Hogs are likely to leave Robert Felton at tackle with DeMarcus Love at Felton's old right guard spot. Valdez is available this week. The offensive line was productive last week with Felton at left tackle and Love at right guard.

Split ends Marcus Monk and Robert Johnson continued to rotate day's off in practice. Monk, out Tuesday, returned to practice on Wednesday. Johnson sat out on Wednesday after practicing Tuesday.

"Both of them will play," Nutt said, noting that their rotation on practices during the week was per the plan sat down on Sunday.

Norton has handled punt returns of late, but that decision won't be made until pre-game warmups when his injury will be evaluated. Norton took a helmet to the knee against MSU.

"We'll check him in pre-game," Nutt said. "After him, it's Reggie Fish and then Peyton Hillis."

Nutt said the Hogs always look forward to the LSU game.

"It's a festive time since it's around a holiday," he said. "And, there has been a lot riding on it. It's determined the team that goes to Atlanta a lot of times. This game usually decides who goes.

"Last year, we had already wrapped it up. And, they spoiled it for us. This year they already have it wrapped up ... we want to go down there and play it one play at a time."

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