Norton Undergoes Surgery; Fairchild's Status

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas cornerback Jerell Norton entered spring practice with the first-team defense.

But when the Razorbacks' post-spring depth chart was released Wednesday, the junior was noticeably missing.

Norton's absence was largely because of a hamstring injury that sidelined him much of the spring. Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said Norton underwent surgery to correct the problem and he is expected to compete for playing time when the Razorbacks kick off preseason practice in August.

"It's a situation where this is supposed to speed up the healing and give him full speed and full range of movement back," Petrino said Wednesday.

Norton entered the spring as Arkansas' most experienced returning cornerback. He led the Razorbacks with five interceptions last season and was expected to ease the loss of starters Matterral Richardson and Michael Grant.

But Norton was injured during the second day of drills and watched the rest of the spring from the sidelines. Without him, the Hogs built depth at the position with a six-man rotation of Jamar Love, Isaac Madison, Darrell Glasper, Shedrick Johnson, Ramon Broadway and Greg Gatson.

"Right now it's a recovery time deal," Petrino said about Norton's surgery. "We'll have to see how that goes."

No Change

The defensive depth chart was also missing linebacker Freddie Fairchild, who is serving an indefinite suspension after being arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery and false imprisonment before spring practice began.

Fairchild has a court date set up later this month and his status with the Razorbacks remains uncertain.

"Nothing has changed on that," Petrino said. "I don't know anything new."

Without Fairchild, Elston Forte, Jerry Franklin and Ryan Powers hold first-team spots at linebacker this summer.

Spring Disappointment

Petrino said one of the biggest disappointments of the spring was the sprained ankle running back Chip Gregory suffered during the first week of practice. The sophomore, who moved over to the offense after starting his career at linebacker, was never full speed after suffering the injury.

"We didn't get to see him," Petrino said. "We didn't get to find out, ‘Can he contribute? How can he contribute?' He wanted to get back and we forced the issue a little bit late, but he was limping around out there.

"We certainly didn't learn a lot about him."

But Gregory will get the chance in the fall. Petrino was asked if Gregory could move back to linebacker if he doesn't pan out in the backfield. He said it was a possibility, but wants to see what the back looks like carrying the football first.

Looking Ahead

Petrino has proven he's not one to look ahead, but couldn't help it when he attended a Razorback Club meeting recently.

Petrino said the 2008 schedule was sitting on a table he was seated at and the difficulties were obvious. In particular, the Razorbacks play consecutive games against Texas, Alabama, Florida and Auburn in the first half of the season.

"I felt like they didn't want me to get a lot of sleep," Petrino said. "When you have Texas, Alabama, Florida, Auburn, all four in a row. That's a good schedule right there."

Minority Forum

Arkansas cornerbacks coach Lorenzo Ward is one of 40 coaches, athletic directors and conference commissioners attending the 2008 Minority Coaches Forum in Phoenix, Ariz., this week. Ward is one of four Southeastern Conference coaches in attendance joining Alabama's Burton Burns and Mississippi State's Sylvester Croom and Charlie Harbison.

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