Kick This

Injuries have caused Florida State to shuffle its kickoff return team. True freshman <b>Antonio Cromartie, </b> who ranks seventh in the Atlantic Coast Conference with a 23.8 average on 21 returns, suffered a right knee sprain in last Saturday's double-overtime victory over North Carolina State. Although in a brace and on crutches Wednesday, Cromartie said he's determined to play in the Seminoles' regular-season finale at Florida Nov. 29.

"They (team physicians) are saying (I will be out) two weeks but I am going to try to cut that in half," Cromartie said.

"It's still sore and swollen, but I am icing it and getting treatment. I don't believe it's a setback. It has been a learning experience in terms of (being injured). I am going to try to run next week."

Cromartie, who has kept busy watching film of the Gators, was hurt on the game's final kickoff. He said his knee initially locked on him and "as I was going down I was hit" by a Wolfpack player on the squib kick. He also said it's "the first time I've ever been injured."

The Seminoles, who will practice Thursday and then break for a long weekend, must also find a replacement for leading receiver Craphonso Thorpe. Thorpe, who had two kickoff returns for 62 yards, is out for the season after he suffered a broken right leg against the Wolfpack.

FSU assistant coach John Lilly said running back Leon Washington and receiver Willie Reid are currently the frontrunners at kickoff return. Washington led the team last season with a 28.3-yard average, including a 97-yard return for a score. Reid has two career kickoff returns for 30 total yards.

Others to keep an eye on include receivers Chris Davis and Chauncey Stovall.

"I guess I will be next in line if Cro (Cromartie) isn‘t ready," said Ried, who had an 18-yard kickoff return against Maryland earlier this season. "They don't have anybody else to do it - may get it by default (laughing)."

Of course, all eyes continue to focus on Thorpe's flanker position.

Davis, who coach Bobby Bowden said can use "the exposure," Lorne Sam and Dominic Robinson continued to rotate at that slot Wednesday. There's also speculation that P.K. Sam could move to flanker, elevating Reid at split end.

Additionally, Reid says there has been no discussion of moving him from split end to flanker.

"We have some big shoes to fill with Cro (Thorpe) out, so everybody -- not just one person -- needs to step up this week," Reid said.

"Everyone is working hard, and everything should be fine. We all have to figure out ways to make plays -- receivers, tight ends, quarterbacks. Basically, we have to stay focused and have to manage to get through this difficult time."


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