Muschamp Happy to Have Roberson Practicing

When Will Muschamp got the news about Marcus Roberson's neck injury last fall, the Florida head coach wasn't sure if Roberson would be able to play football again. The uncertainty around the neck injury was erased, as the sophomore cornerback is now a non-contact participant in spring practice. He needs to improve before the season starts, but Muschamp is just happy he is back on the field.

Marcus Roberson spent the two open days of practice in a non-contact jersey. He was on the field during drills and running around on the field without any noticeable pain. Will Muschamp echoed that his cornerback looks good running around, but they're going to take things slow.

The injury happened when the Gators played at South Carolina in the fall. He missed Florida's final three games of the season. Muschamp said he was wearing a neck brace six-to-eight weeks before switching to another brace that didn't completely restrict movement.

However, once the injury originally happened, Muschamp didn't know if Roberson would ever be on the field again.

"Oh yeah. Anytime you deal with the head or neck, football is over as far as I'm concerned," Muschamp said Monday afternoon. "Our medical people did a great job and put him through every test you can imagine. They took all the pictures and did all the stuff you can do.

"It was a very serious issue."

The news of the injury hit Roberson hard. He started the first 10 games of his true freshman season before the injury. Although he had just one interception, Roberson showed solid cover skills and looked to be emerging as one of the best young cornerbacks in the SEC.

The injury kept him from finishing his freshman season.

"Marcus is a competitor," Muschamp said. "Anytime you take that away from a player, it's very frustrating. He was hurt. He was down bad. I was worried about him as just a human being. He was really depressed about the situation because it's something he loves and cares about so much maybe being taken away from him. He's a guy we're glad to see back out there, more than anything for him."

There are still steps for Roberson to take this offseason once he is fully healthy.

"Strength is the number one thing—just physical, overall strength," Muschamp said. "When you're in coverage against some bigger wide outs and getting pushed, you've got to be able to withstand that."

INJURY REPORT: Solomon Patton's groin injury is the most serious one on the team in early camp. Muschamp listed him as "week-to-week" and said that he definitely wouldn't participate in the team scrimmage on Saturday. He suffered the injury when he cut during practice.

Stephen Alli (groin) and Earl Okine (back) were both listed as "day-to-day." Loucheiz Purifoy sprained his shoulder last week, but he won't miss any practices.

OFFENSIVE LINE IMPROVEMENT: It wasn't pretty for the Florida offensive line last season. There wasn't much experience going into the year. Jon Halapio returned after starting in 2010, and offensive tackle Xavier Nixon had seen time in his first two years.

After that, the Gators didn't play bodies that had much experience before the season started.

"As much as anything, it's experience," Muschamp said of why the line will improve this year. "Last year was a huge step forward. From the previous year, Jon Halapio was the only offensive lineman on our entire offense that had played extensive snaps in a season. We were very inexperienced up front last year.

"We'll make tremendous strides this year up front because of the experience, and I really like what (offensive line coach) Tim (Davis) brings to the table as far as those guys being a cohesive unit and knowing what it takes to make a college player tick."

That process begins with two freshmen this spring. Early enrollees D.J. Humphries and Jessamen Dunker have been on campus since January and are participating in the offseason workouts and spring practices.

"Those guys have done well," Muschamp said. "They really have. I've been very pleased with both players. Going through the offseason program and now going into spring practice, I'm very pleased with their progress."


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