Wilson Improving

Freshman Tyler Wilson earned more work with the second-team offense during Thursday's practice.

It came a day after the former Greenwood star impressed coaches during the Razorbacks scrimmage.

"Tyler Wilson did some nice things (Wednesday)," offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said Thursday morning. "He was real instinctive. He threw the ball well and did some nice things out of the shotgun."

Wilson is trying to earn the backup job behind senior starter Casey Dick. Nathan Dick has earned most of the second-team work, but quarterbacks coach Garrick McGee said the redshirt freshman has struggled lately.

"I think the last couple days he would agree that he took a couple of steps back," McGee said. "But the sun will come up (today) and he'll keep going forward.

"But I think the last couple days his concentration and focus has not been where it needs to be."

Wilson hasn't been perfect, either. He has performed well out of the shotgun — which is what he ran in high school — but is still learning how to play under center.

"There's been a lot of learning going on," Wilson said. "It's still going on. There's still a lot I have to learn. We still have a few weeks left before the first game starts.

"It's good getting reps. Reps are what really makes things work and click in your mind."

Battered Linebackers

It seems like every time one Arkansas linebacker returns from an injury, another goes down. That was the case again Thursday.

While sophomore Ryan Powers returned to practice after missing the past several days with a strained right hamstring, senior Elston Forte was held out with what is believed to be a minor injury.

"We've been pushing him pretty hard, and (he) just got nicked up a little bit," linebackers coach Reggie Johnson said. "We're just making sure that he's healthy when we get ready here to kick off in a few weeks."

Meanwhile, Johnson said freshman Tenarius Wright is doing "better" after missing four days with a sprained ankle. At the start of fall camp, Wright was pushing Jerry Franklin for the starting middle linebacker job.

"His (injury) is day-to-day and we'll get him out (to practice) as soon as we can," Johnson said.

Powers got some work with the first-team defense on his first day back on the practice field. He said he's feeling "good," but is still trying to digest the defense.

"I'm trying to get back to full speed, get back on my plays and get that playbook," Powers said.

Freshmen Impact

Two freshmen — free safety Elton Ford and weakside linebacker Khiry Battle — practiced with the first-team defense Thursday.

Ford earned work throughout the entire practice in place of juniors Matt Harris and Rashaad Johnson. Harris worked with the second-team defense, while Johnson missed the practice because of an unknown injury.

"It was a big turnaround," said Ford, who was told he would run with the starting group during position meetings Thursday morning. "Coach told me to get ready, be prepared, mentally and physically. Run to the football."

Battle filled in for Forte, who was out with an injury. The 5-foot-11, 214-pound Battle, who had been working at the Jack linebacker spot, agreed to move to the weakside after impressing coaches during a tackling drill this week.

"During (a) break coach Petrino came and asked me how much I weigh and I told him 214," said Battle, who hasn't played at linebacker since eighth grade. "Later on that day they asked me if I thought I could get up to 225 in 30 days. I told them, ‘Yes sir.' So they told me they liked what they saw and I'd be at Will."

Battle, who said he has never had trouble gaining weight, will try to bulk up by eating extra meals.

Extra Points

• Arkansas' coaches and players were treated to fresh watermelons after Thursday's morning practices. A total of 125 watermelons from Hope were brought to Fayetteville and handed out after practice.

• Razorback Fan Day, which will be held Saturday, has been moved indoors to the Walker Pavilion because of the threat of inclement weather. Arkansas coaches, players, mascots and the spirit squad will be in attendance to sign autographs. Festivities will run from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

• Arkansas practices twice today at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. It is the final day practices are open to the public. The Razorbacks will scrimmage Saturday, but it will be closed.

— Robbie Neiswanger and Alex Abrams

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