They're Back

Several players whose contributions are being looked forward to by players, coaches and fans alike have been able to see some significant practice time as they come back from injuries. While players such as Michael Reed, Austin Collie, Grant Nelson and Terrance Hooks were out there practicing, a couple of players were not due to some academic issues.

"I'm back and I feel great," said wide receiver Michael Reed on the heels of a great practice session. "We put on pads yesterday in preparation for New Mexico and I got hit in the knee real good and it felt fine, so that was good, real good for me."

Reed finished Wednesday's practice session with three touchdown catches against the scout team. He appeared as if he hadn't missed a beat since being shelved the last two games due to his knee injury.

"I'm cutting well and I just feel like I did before I got hurt," acknowledged Reed. "Max [Hall] is looking for me in practice and I was fortunate to make some plays today. It's just whatever Max sees with the coverage and he'll get it to the right place, which he always does."

Reed and his teammates are anxious to go against a New Mexico defense that presents some unique challenges.

"New Mexico is a real good team, a physical team," said Reed. "That's why we practiced in pads yesterday to prepare us better for the game. They run a lot of man-coverage, which you like as a receiver, and they're tough. We'll have to be on top of our game to execute well against them."

Not Quite Back

Grant Nelson and Terrance Hooks meanwhile are on schedule to return, according to head coach Bronco Mendenhall. Both players got a lot of reps during Wednesday's practice session with the first-team and second-team defensive units.

"I could play this week if the coaches feel it's the right thing to do," said Nelson, who was sidelined due to some inflamed kidneys and other health problems. "Hopefully I'll get some special teams work and just work my way back from there. I'm just anxious to get out there and help out."

It was during Nelson's honeymoon of all places where he started to feel the effects of his inflamed kidneys.

"After the honeymoon I got really sick and went to the doctor," explained Nelson. "I got some CAT scans and found out that my kidneys were enlarged. So, I had a couple of surgeries two weeks before school started and they then found a growth in my bladder the size of a tennis ball, so they got rid of that and that's pretty much it."

Since then trainers and doctors alike had to decide between trying to immediately fix his existing ailments or just let them heal themselves. Fortunately, Nelson began to heal well immediately to the point where he's all better and out there practicing in hopes of adding needed depth to the strongside linebacker position.

"It was a little scary at first, but I feel fine now," said Nelson. "It was something I was born with and sort of runs in the family. But I'm fine now and I got back into shape and I'm ready to go. I had to catch up a bit and I'm still catching up, but yeah, I feel great."

Just Jammed It

There was a lot of concern over Austin Collie's finger injury, which was sustained during Tuesday's practice session, but Collie alleviated those concerns by having a full practice session Wednesday.

"I just jammed it, I'm fine," said Collie about his finger. "It hurts a bit, but I'm ready to go, I'll play this Saturday."

Not Back

A couple of valuable second-string defenders have not practiced this week and will be held out this Saturday as they catch up academically. BYU will be without the services of backup nose tackle Mosese Foketi and backup field corner G Pittman this Saturday.

"Neither one of them will practice until their academics are caught up," said head coach Bronco Mendenhall. "So that will be indefinite. Academics take priority over football and our current policy is that no player practices or plays unless their work is current, and [Foketi's and Pittman's] work is not current."

Steven Thomas meanwhile has been moved over from safety to field corner to add depth to the position. Mendenhall stated that Thomas has the sort of athletic build of players such as Ben Criddle and Scott Johnson. Gary Nagy will join with Thomas to add backup depth behind Brandon Howard at the field cornerback position.

Speaking of Scott Johnson, he practiced Wednesday, as did David Nixon. Both players are expected to play this Saturday after sustaining minor injuries against Utah State.

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