Love May Have Speedy Recovery

Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino sounded optimistic that cornerback Jamar Love could return in two weeks after having surgery Wednesday to repair an injured thumb.

In the meantime, sophomore Ramon Broadway will make his first career start when he replaces Love at the boundary cornerback spot in Saturday's game at No. 20 Auburn.

"I'm excited about it. I've been waiting a long time to start," Broadway said following Wednesday's practice. "I feel like I've got to clean up some areas of my technique. I've got a lot on my shoulders, but I think I can handle it."

Even if Love's injury is temporary, it will be a blow to Arkansas' inexperienced secondary. The senior captain has started every game this season, and he leads the team with three tackles for loss and seven pass breakups.

Petrino said doctors told him that there is a chance that Love could return to the field sooner than expected.

"The report was that they put two screws in (Love's thumb) and that they're optimistic he could be back in two weeks," Petrino said. "It all depends on how quickly the growth of the bone starts.

"We've got a bone stimulator on there, and we're optimistic that he'll be back in two weeks. Yet we're not sure yet."

Love injured his thumb in Saturday's 38-7 loss to No. 11 Florida. He's the second cornerback to go down with an injury over the past two weeks.

Junior Jerell Norton, a backup who also served as Arkansas' primary punt returner, is out indefinitely with a recurring hamstring injury.

Arkansas secondary coach Lorenzo Ward said Broadway has played "sporadic" at times this season, recording 12 tackles and one interception in five games as a backup.

"He has to come out and do the things that we're teaching and play within the defensive scheme that we have and he'll be fine," Ward said. "If he tries to do things that he's not coached to do, we'll be in trouble."

Starting Jobs Open

It appears there are several close races between Arkansas offensive linemen for starting jobs.

Petrino said offensive tackle Ray Dominguez got twice as many reps in practice as redshirt freshman Grant Freeman.

Dominguez missed Saturday's loss to Florida because he was visiting his sick grandmother. That forced Freeman to fill in after junior Michael Aguirre got hurt on the first play of the game.

Meanwhile, Petrino said sophomore DeMarcus Love is back in the mix to start at offensive guard after missing last week's game because of an ankle injury. He must beat out redshirt freshman Grant Cook, who started for Love against the Gators.

"Both Cook and Love are competing at the spot," Petrino said. "Love looks like he's healthier. (But) he doesn't look 100 percent yet."

Smith Still Returning Punts

Arkansas running back Michael Smith had plenty to keep him busy against Florida.

The junior rushed 20 times for 133 yards and one touchdown. He caught six passes for 43 yards. And as if that weren't enough, he returned punts.

Smith was thrown into returning punts after Norton aggravated a hamstring injury last week. And with Norton's return uncertain, Smith will continue to handle punts along with his other duties.

"Right now, (Norton) is not available and really the way it boils down is Michael is our next best guy," said Arkansas running backs coach Tim Horton, who also coaches the returners. "I think he'll do a really good job, and obviously he can make a play with the ball in his hands."

Smith returned two punts for 6 yards, but his fumbled punt return in the second quarter led to Florida's second touchdown.

Horton said he's confident that the 5-foot-7, 173-pounds Smith can continue to return punts as well as line up as Arkansas' starting tailback.

"He can handle it. Mike does a great job of taking care of his body," Horton said. "... So far, so good. We're going into the sixth game, and I think he's really healthy right now."

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