Norton Ready

Arkansas' defense could have a familiar face back on the field when the Razorbacks (1-0) play Louisiana-Monroe (0-1) in War Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.

Cornerback Jerell Norton has practiced with the Razorbacks this week and is hoping to get a chance to play after missing the opener because of hernia surgery in August.

"It's like (being) a kid at the candy store, ready to get in," Norton said. "It was something that was driving me crazy."

It has been a long time since Norton, who led Arkansas with five interceptions last season, has been on the field.

The junior was sidelined in the spring after sustaining a hamstring injury the first week of drills. He was scheduled to return for the start of preseason practice in August, but the hernia was discovered during his routine physical on Arkansas' reporting day. Norton underwent surgery and has slowly worked his way back toward the field since.

Defensive coordinator Willy Robinson said Norton is still trying to get in shape, but the cornerback can help Saturday.

"We'll use him in some of our package," he said. "We'll find out how he's coming. I mean, he's practiced two days hard. We've got to be careful on what (today) is going to be like."

Wednesday Improvement

Arkansas' coaches were disappointed with the effort during Tuesday's practice. But safety Matt Harris believed there was considerable improvement Wednesday.

"We have no excuse why we came out and played like that," Harris said. "But we've learned the game plan more, we got in our books, we studied more. It's kind of an attitude thing. We adjusted our attitudes. We needed to make up for (Tuesday)."

Robinson said the Razorbacks did perform better, but they're still struggling to put together consecutive days of good work.

"It's not one day on, one day off," Robinson said. "For us to improve, it's got to be a consistent level and (Wednesday) we came out and achieved that. The thing is we've got to hope we get it (today) and we'll demand that we get it (today) and hopefully they respond. And they better respond."

Any More Freshmen?

Arkansas' participation chart for the season opener showed that 15 true freshmen played. Six of them started.

Bobby Petrino said that his young group was "real nervous" when the game began, but settled in after halftime. He doesn't believe many more freshmen will join the rest of the young group on the field this season.

"I think that's about where we're at," Petrino said. "I think there's some of them that just contributed on special teams. There were some that started and played up to 60 plays.

"But I think what we'll see is we're about where we'll be with the freshmen barring injury."

Personnel Report

Receiver London Crawford (concussion), whose status for Saturday's game is uncertain, participated in practice Wednesday. Offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said a day earlier that Wednesday's practice would go a long way in determining Crawford's availability for ULM.

In addition, linebacker Elston Forte (knee) continued to practice even though he's doubtful this week. Offensive lineman Mitch Petrus, who couldn't play for an undisclosed reason, continued to practice although his status is unknown. So is the status of linebacker Walner Leandre, who was held out of the opener by the coaching staff.

"That was an in-house deal so I can't talk about it," Robinson said.

Wet Weather

The soggy remains of Hurricane Gustav forced the Razorbacks inside for the second straight day.

Petrino said the wet weather has hampered only one area of the Razorbacks' preparation for ULM: Special teams.

"Where it mostly affects us is in the kicking game," Petrino said. "We'll probably have to go out after practice and get out in the rain and punt and catch punts, and kickoff and catch kickoffs. Everything else we can do pretty well inside."

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