Forte Feeling Comfortable With Knee

Back at full strength from a dislocated knee injury, Arkansas senior linebacker Elston Forte seemed fully recovered on Wednesday. Forte said he was a little tentative on Tuesday, his first day of practice with full contact since August 14.

But the Little Rock native beamed after Wednesday's practice when asked how comfortable he was out on the practice field.

"The first day, I can't lie to you. I had my doubts," Forte said. "But once I got over that fear, it's been back to normal. After that first day, I came back in the locker room and smiled. I felt like myself."

Arkansas defensive coordinator Willy Robinson said Forte appeared confident and efficient in his movements. He also said Forte was "communicating awfully well, and hopefully the young kids are paying attention to that."

Forte said he kept that communication open with Arkansas' inexperienced linebackers even when he was going through rehab.

"They would call me on the phone, and sometimes they would come over and I'd go over the playbook with them," Forte said.



Linebacker Depth

Forte wasn't the only linebacker returning to action this week. Junior Wendel Davis, also back from injuries, participated in practice on Tuesday, and sophomore Freddy Burton is now eligible after finishing a two-game suspension he drew because of a drunk-driving arrest in the summer.

That gives Arkansas' coaches more depth to deal with at the position.

"We'll (rotate) them and keep them fresh," linebackers coach Reggie Johnson said. "Again, they're all a little rusty. They've been out for two weeks. But they've been working hard.

"They're sucking wind a little bit, but I expect all those guys to play."



Red-Zone Woes

Arkansas' defense has had some of its biggest problems inside the 20-yard line. In fact, the Razorbacks are among the worst in the Southeastern Conference in red-zone defense.

Arkansas' opponents have scored on six of their seven trips inside the red zone. That includes an SEC-high five touchdowns in two games.

"We need to stiffen up," Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. "We need to be able to make the play on third downs.

"A lot of times we've done a great job first down and second down and then got to third down and they've converted. But it's something we're learning. We're getting better and we're getting some guys back so that'll help us, too."

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