Sheppard returned to Arkansas' practice after being held out the day before for play Razorback coach Bobby Petrino said, "put a couple of guys in jeopardy of getting injured," during Tuesday's workout.
"I've got to understand that Coach Petrino demands a certain level of play out of us. Sometimes I want to go beyond that," said Sheppard, who was named to the Bednarik Award watch list Thursday. "In practice I feel like it's a real game, but we've got to keep our players fresh and keep our players healthy. Me going full-speed does cause trouble and that's something I'm working on. You want to go full-tilt but then again you don't want anyone getting hurt, especially offensive linemen."
Sheppard's presence both athletically and vocally was noticeably absent during a Wednesday morning workout in which the Razorback offense gobbled up large chunks of land on the defense. Sheppard said missing that practice didn't help anyone.
"Nobody is above the law. It goes to show those younger guys that when you go over the line you get punished for it," Sheppard said. "Some might say, ‘Oh, you got held out of practice; that's a good thing.' It's not a good thing because everybody needs work; you need to work on your fundamentals and your tools to get better, so I needed a day of practice and it was another day I couldn't get better. It won't happen again. I'll play smart."
Arkansas defensive coordinator Willy Robinson said he was glad to see the preseason all-SEC selection back on the field, but was cautiously optimistic he learned his lesson.
"It'd be nice if he did what he was asked to do and execute in a team scrimmage type of thing. He's got to learn to do that," Robinson said. "It's always nice to have Malcolm Sheppard on the field. We'd like to have him on the field when we scrimmage but he's got to learn to be disciplined and show some self-control so that he executes the defense and doesn't break the defense down."
Sheppard said he and the defense played smarter during Thursday's two-a-day workouts. That helped the unit focus on areas it needed to improve.
"We ran to the ball and that's the most important thing," Sheppard said. "That's what we've been working on all week. In order for us to be a good defense we've got to run to the football. We did better at that today so we're getting there."
Senior safety Matt Harris said it showed a lot about Razorback coaches that they would even consider withholding Sheppard – a senior captain – from a practice.
"He's so disruptive and forceful," Harris said. "When you've got to tell a player to slow down you know he's on the right course. It's never a bad thing to tell someone to slow down.
"Malcolm is one of those guys like a Lawrence Taylor. You have to hold him out of practice or the practice won't be successful," Harris said jokingly. "The offense would barely get a play off if Malcolm was in practice."
While it was a hit for the defense for Sheppard not to participate in Wednesday's drills, Harris said it allowed the team to approach it like an injury during the regular season.
"Just like in a season, when someone goes down you have to pick up and move on," Harris said. "We knew Malcolm wasn't in there but we still played football."