FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett (foot) is expected to go full speed by the time practice opens next week, Razorback coaches reiterated Thursday.
Getting Mallett - who missed spring practice with a broken foot - better has been a primary focal point for coaches and doctors this off-season. The quarterback is doing fine but will need a speedy recovery in terms of conditioning to catch up with teammates.
"He's just going to need more reps to get himself in condition," Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee said. "A lot of these guys have been running and they are in top condition right now. We've got to get him in shape and get his timing back, and just get him back in rhythm. He'll get the reps he needs in camp.
"I expect him to be out there that first day ready to roll."
Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino added, "He should be full-speed by then. He's doing some control situation running right now. By Monday he should increase that and by Tuesday he should be running full speed. We do need to be cautious because you don't want to throw him out there too early. All the reports from the doctors have been good, thumbs up and he's where he needs to be."
Other players like Tenarius Wright (foot) and Knile Davis (shoulder) were injured in the spring. How are they doing?
"Tenarius is doing great," Petrino said. "He's had a very good summer. A year ago he was trying to keep his weight down and convince the head coach he was a linebacker. We watched some of the practices last year and he did good there but he can really rush off the edge. He's bigger and stronger now and I'm interested to see how he does. It was unfortunate he didn't go through the spring.
"Knile is doing great. His injury and surgery was similar to London Crawford and Lucas Miller (last season). They put the plate in and what that allows you to do is condition your legs. It heals fast and he was ready to go by the time we started our summer program."
Petrino said he has been impressed with reports he has received on newcomers Byran Jones and Chris Smith.
"They stepped in and didn't miss a beat and worked with the vets better than has happened in the past," Petrino said.
The head coach noted at least one newcomer won't make it to campus this season as linebacker Courtney Gaston of Fort Gibson, Okla., will enroll at Northeast Oklahoma University. There he will room with fellow-Razorback signee Calvin Barnett. If things go well academically the duo could make it to the UA campus in time for the 2012 season.
Petrino said he is optimistic freshman linebacker Jarrett Lake of Jenks, Okla., will be cleared to play this fall, though nothing is official at this time.
Preseason practices will be a little different this year, at least for the first week. Petrino said newcomers and veterans would be broken into two separate practices for the first four days. That's different from the past when newcomers came out early and were joined by veterans in one practice.
"The idea there is to give the newcomers more reps and a little more understanding," Petrino said. "We'll install for four practices and then the fifth practice start over again. I feel like it will help our young guys learn quicker and do a good job on the practice field from the start."
Petrino said he is ready for practices to get underway.
"We're excited to get started," Petrino said. "I'm tired of talking and tired of hearing what going on out there. We're just ready to get on the practice field and get to work. We've had a great summer. All the reports from the strength and conditioning staff is the players have worked extremely hard."
Also excited to get on the practice field is first-year Razorback offensive line coach Chris Klenakis. He has spent the months since spring practice breaking down film.
"You're looking which kids got better during the spring and where they developed," Klenakis said. "You're also looking at fundamentally what we need to go back and work on. What didn't they grasp from a grammatical standpoint and from a physical standpoint?
"We're still a work in progress. We did improve from the first day to the 15th day but we're still not where we need to be opening up."
Klenakis told offensive linemen in his introductory press conference to "play nasty or you won't play." Who are the nastiest offensive linemen?
"It's hard to say we had nasty, nasty," Klenakis said. "You've got to practice smart, that's the philosophy we have here at Arkansas. You have to help your teammate. We'll get a better taste of who's nasty when the lights come on this fall."
As with most positions, Klenakis said strength and conditioning coach Jason Veltkamp has had good things to say about his guys in the weight room this summer.
"It's been a very positive report," Klenakis said. "The guys that we targeted have gone in and done extra work on their own.
"Jason and his staff do a wonderful job and I feel our guys are improving because of it."
Klenakis said one of last year's starting guards, Wade Grayson, has recovered well after injuring his knee during the spring. Like last preseason he could be looked at in a center role as well.
"I think with Wade the important thing is technically he has a lot of catch-up to do on fundamentals," Klenakis said. "He went down on day three so he lost a lot of work. He's a versatile player. We've got good options and we have to switch around the best five guys to give us our best option."
Preseason all-SEC selection DeMarcus Love will be weakside - or "quickside" - tackle, Klenakis said.
"It's a position where you do a lot of one-on-one blocking," Klenakis said. "DeMarcus has tremendous length in his arms and has good agility. He has great temperment for it. He'll be a nice fit."
On the defensive line, Bobby Allen said the Razorbacks will have great depth this season. One key this season could be the play of Alfred Davis.
"The strength coaches have really been pleased with the way he has progressed," Allen said. "Alfred is a young man that from a condition standpoint has worked hard. Now he can run. He showed me at times last year in games against Georgia or Alabama, that he can get in there and hold his own as a nose tackle. Now that he's worked on his lateral quickness, he could give us more reps.
"We've got six guys (at defensive tackle). It doesn't matter who's playing because they're all doing their job consistently. We want to be able to play four or five guys and keep them fresh. That will help us in terms of injuries as the year goes along."
Depth will also be better at linebacker.
"I feel good about it," linebackers coach Reggie Johnson said. "We have a lot of guys back and the younger guys we've brought in, we feel good about them because they're athletic. It's the best group since we've been here - no question."
That depth could help with Jerry Franklin, a preseason second-team all-SEC selection by league coaches. Johnson said he hopes Franklin can stay at weakside linebacker full-time.
"In the past he has had to be a utility guy for us," Johnson said. "We hope that with our depth we leave him at the Will and let him focus on that, and continue to get better."
The progression of Jermaine Love at middle linebacker has been a bonus.
"He's a spark plug," Johnson said. "He's going to get a shot and I feel good about Jermaine. He's real positive and he's looking forward to having the opportunity to be the guy in the middle."
Players report for practices next Wednesday while drills begin next Thursday. The first day in full pads will be Aug. 9 and all outdoor practices will be open to the public until Aug. 21.
Coaches: Mallett Will Be Ready
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