Arkansas Practice Report

Legging it Out Arkansas players may have enjoyed their first off day of the preseason Sunday, but coach Bobby Petrino said it was obvious the Razorbacks still hadn't recovered from two weeks of camp Monday afternoon.

"I think it will still take a little bit more recovery," he said. "I thought they came out with pretty good effort and tried to practice hard."

Petrino said the Razorbacks will spend part of that time gameplanning for Western Illinois this week, but the physicality of practices will be tapered down some so that players can get their legs back. His goal is to have everyone back to full speed in time for Friday's scrimmage.

The Razorbacks said they used the day off to rest and relax. Sleep was the most common activity for players polled Monday.

"I woke up around 2 p.m. and thought I was late for a meeting," running back Michael Smith said. "Then I realized I had nothing to do and I just went back to sleep."

Smith, who called Arkansas' preseason camp the "most intensive" he's ever been part of, said the off day didn't help him recover physically from the two-week grind. But he thinks it helped him mentally to be away from football.

"I'm a little wore out," Smith said. "But like Coach Petrino said, this last week is going to be a grind. My legs probably hurt the worst than anything, but that's no different than anybody else. I think we're going to be all right."



The Wright Stuff

Receiver Jarius Wright leads a four-player battle for the job at punt returner. In fact, Petrino said Wright would be Arkansas' choice if the season started Monday.

"We like him," Petrino said. "I like the way he catches the ball. I like his initial quickness."

Wright returned punts in high school, but said he was having trouble adjusting to the job at the college level. However the freshman — who is also fighting for a starting job at wide receiver — feels much more comfortable this week.

"I think I'm starting to get it down better," Wright said. "I'm getting my concentration down. I'm starting to get used to catching them."



Where's the Heat?

Mild temperatures have blanketed Northwest Arkansas the past week, but have left Petrino longing for some blistering heat.

"It's not hot enough out here," Petrino said. "It's nice for a practice, but you worry about September when you play and it's going to be 100 degrees and humid. So you need more heat, more humidity and work a little harder."

Petrino's biggest concern is Arkansas' third game at Texas, which will kick off in Austin at 2:30 p.m. The temperature reached 100 in Austin last Thursday, according to weather.com, and could be just as stifling on Sept. 13.

The players aren't complaining, though.

"I remember that first week it seemed so much harder than it is now, just because of the heat," tight end D.J. Williams said. "I walked out before practice and it was kind of hot and as soon as we stepped on (the field), God kind of looked out for us and gave us a nice little breeze.

"(Petrino will) probably call Him up. I hope not."



Injury Reports

Linebacker Elston Forte wasn't on the field for the fourth straight day, missing Monday's workout with an undisclosed injury.

In addition, first-team safety Elton Ford, freshman Matt Marshall and linebacker Ryan Powers weren't with the team during the 20-minute portion of practice open to the media.

Two other freshmen — running back De'Anthony Curtis (sprained knee) and linebacker Tenarius Wright (ankle) — were among the injured players working in the rehabilition portion of the practice field.

"(Curtis) was out here, but he didn't do a whole lot," Petrino said. "He's still a little ways away.

"Hopefully by the middle, late part of the week he'll be running plays and doing things full speed."



Quick Hits

• Petrino said free safety Matt Harris performed well in Saturday's scrimmage. Harris, who opened the preseason with the first-team defense, was overtaken by Ford last week. But the two continue to fight for a starting job.

• The Razorbacks believe Forte could return to the practice field by the end of the week. Without him, freshmen Khiry Battle and Jelani Smith have manned weakside linebacker.

• Arkansas will practice twice today, although Petrino said it will be more like "one-and-a-half" workouts. The afternoon practice will center on special teams and situational work.

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