Still, the sophomore is now working with the first-team defense. He's trying to fill the starting cornerback spot that came open when junior Isaac Madison tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in Saturday's first full preseason scrimmage.
"(The coaches) came to me and told me I need to step up," Gatson said. "All the coaches have been giving me real good support, and tell me I need to step up and really just come in and perform."
Gatson admitted he's still getting adjusted to the speed that comes with working with the first-team defense. That was evident in the scrimmage when he gave up a 57-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jarius Wright only moments after replacing Madison in the lineup.
Freshman David Gordon has moved up as the second-team cornerback behind Gatson.
Junior Ramon Broadway, who's Arkansas' other first-team cornerback, said Gatson has stepped up his game over the past few days. But Broadway admitted that losing Madison for the season is a severe blow for the team.
"It's definitely a big loss. It's like losing a brother. Isaac is like a brother to me," Broadway said. "It kind of hurt me more emotional wise because I know how bad Isaac wanted it and I know how bad me and him worked so hard in the summer."
• Arkansas running back Broderick Green was absent from Tuesday's afternoon practice for an undisclosed reason. The sophomore took part in the team's morning practice, but he didn't return later in the day. No official reason was given for Green's absence.
• Kicker Alex Tejada struggled with his accuracy in both of Arkansas' two practices on Tuesday. He missed several field goals from beyond 40 yards in the morning, then continued to have problems in the afternoon.
"I've been fairly pleased with him," Arkansas special teams coordinator John L. Smith said of Tejada. "(Tuesday) wasn't his best day, but he's been good."
• Tight end D.J. Williams and defensive tackle Malcolm Sheppard have been named as preseason candidates for the Lombardi Award, given annually to the nation's top lineman either on offense or defense. Sheppard was also included on the Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list. The trophy is awarded to the nation's top defensive player.
• Wide receiver London Crawford and tight end Joseph Henry continue to miss practice with injuries. Meanwhile, offensive guard Kareem Crowell was absent from both practices Tuesday.
Arkansas junior Jerell Norton feels healthy for the first time in awhile. He's also trying to feel his way through his move from cornerback to free safety.
Even before cornerback Isaac Madison suffered a season-ending knee injury on Saturday, Arkansas coaches made the decision to move Norton to free safety. Over the past few days, Norton has been taking all his reps in practice at his new position.
"At this point, I'm just learning the plays, trying to get familiar with the position, which is not hard," said Norton, who led the Razorbacks with five interceptions as a cornerback in 2007. "I played safety a little bit my freshman year, but that was a totally different defense."
Norton said he's willing to play whatever position coaches want him to, but he admitted that he likes the freedom that free safety gives him to go after the football.
However, after receiving a medical redshirt last season because of a hamstring injury and hernia surgery, Norton said he's glad just to be back on the field.
"Man, it's just been a long road for me," Norton said. "... I feel I'm in the best shape I've ever been in."
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