Gators start Bowl practices with major injuries

The uncertainty is still there with the Florida Gators in terms of injuries as they head to the Outback Bowl. No matter what there will be several players missing in Tampa on January 2, but that list could me bigger than expected if some guys don’t make it back as quick as anticipated. Florida head coach Jim McElwain says a laundry list of guys will miss the start of Bowl practices next week.

“Going into practice, as of right now, Antonneous Clayton will be out with that arm,” McElwain said of the freshman defensive end. “As of right now, (junior safety) Nick Washington, senior defensive end) Bryan Cox, (senior linebacker) Jarrad Davis, (sophomore guard) Martez Ivey, junior nickel) Duke Dawson will be out.

McElwain also introduced a new injury that wasn’t known with freshman linebacker David Reese. Florida is already missing Davis above along with fellow starter Alex Anzalone at the position. Reese was starting in place of one of them for the last few games of the season.

“David Reese had a wrist deal from the last game, so he'll be out, which obviously makes us thin at linebacker where we were already,” McElwain said. “And yet, you know, next guy up. We'll step some guys in there and start working some of those pieces there as we get going for the bowl game. 

This may give the first real opportunity for redshirt freshman linebacker Rayshad Jackson to make a move. He along with freshmen Vosean Joseph and Kylan Johnson and senior Daniel McMillian should comprise the bulk of practice and or game time through the Outback Bowl.

"Obviously Vosean (Joseph) will play a ton, and he's been playing,” McElwain said. “Rayshad obviously, Kylan (Johnson), who's been a little bit dinged up but he'll be ready to go. And, you know, obviously D-Mac's got to play a huge role in this game for us to be successful."

McElwain has to see the guys report next week in order to better gauge how many of them will miss actually miss the game.

 “Just looking at them, I’ll know more on Monday,” he said. “It’s hard to say. Some of them are high ankles, hopefully they’re shrinking to low ankles, but we’ll see.”

 One he expects back and practicing in at least a limited capacity is quarterback Luke Del Rio. The starter at the beginning of the season, Del Rio has missed several games this year with both a knee and shoulder injury. McElwain has said that Del Rio would back up Austin Appleby in the game and would like to not have to burn the redshirt of freshmen Feleipe Franks or Kyle Trask.

“Luke isn’t all the way back either,” McElwain said. “Austin’s done a good job since he’s started playing. Obviously there are some throws that he’d like back but at the same time this late in the year he deserves it. You know what, I’m excited for him to go play in this game, another opportunity for him to go help this team win.”

“I hope moving forward that we don’t lose those guys (Appleby/Del Rio) but the third guy up (Franks) has to be ready to go.”

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