Injuries: There's Good News And Bad News

There is good news and bad news when it comes to the injury report for the banged up Florida Gators. The good news is that some of the walking wounded are coming around nicely and will be ready for the LSU game Saturday in Baton Rouge. The bad news is that Jemalle Cornelius isn't one of them.

Cornelius, who suffered a bad ankle sprain early in the second half of Florida's 31-3 loss to Alabama two weeks ago, didn't play at all last week against Mississippi State. He's trying to go in practice this week, but his status is, at best, day to day as of Wednesday's practice.

"He practiced today and then they pulled him out," said Coach Urban Meyer. "He got a little sore so I just don't know. He's day to day."

Cornelius had a breakout game against Kentucky three weeks ago with eight catches for 138 yards but he injured his ankle returning a kickoff against Alabama. In the two weeks since the game in Tuscaloosa, Cornelius has not proven to be a quick healer and his absence has depleted Florida's receiving corps.

With Cornelius possibly out for the game, Meyer knows that Florida will have to come up a third and fourth receiver to complement Chad Jackson and Dallas Baker in the Gators' four-wide receiver sets.

The options for the third and four receivers include Kenneth Tookes, Gavin Dickey, Tate Casey and Nyan Boateng. Tookes, who is a find blocker, has caught only one pass for four yards and he has three catches for his career. Dickey, a quarterback converted to wide receiver, caught his first pass of the season last week against Mississippi State for 12 yards. Casey has three catches this year for 28 yards but he's also been plagued by the dropsies. Boateng, a true freshman, has three catches for 66 yards including a 28-yarder against Mississippi State, and two rushes for 16 yards.

The lack of production from this group concerns Meyer, but what is perhaps the greatest concern is that none of them have seized the opportunity to step up their games.

"Gavin's getting more involved and Tate Casey and Nyan Boateng but no one's stepped up and taken it," said Meyer.

Ray McDonald, coming back from knee surgery to repair meniscus damage, cartilage tears and a partially torn ACL after the Tennessee game, practiced Wednesday as well, but like Cornelius, his status is day to day. Because of the nature of his injury and the fact he's coming back from surgery, Meyer is in no rush to push his talented defensive end to play Saturday.

"Ray did some things today but he's day to day as well," said Meyer. "You want to do right by the young man."

Meyer said there is always the possibility that McDonald could come around before Saturday but he said "I just don't think that's going to happen. It's a day to day deal and the trainers, doctors and coaches want to do right by that young man."

That was the bad news but all the news wasn't bad.

Quarterback Chris Leak, hindered by a sprained shoulder last week against Mississippi State and limited last week in practice to only 20 throws on Wednesday, is back at full speed, practicing as if he isn't hurt.

"Chris is good … Chris Leak's good," said Meyer. "If he's sore, he's not saying anything and he's going as hard as he can. He's practiced three full days. This time last week he threw only 20 balls."

Tailback DeShawn Wynn, who couldn't practice last week because of a sore shoulder, is also practicing.

"He practiced hard today," said Meyer. "This was his first hard day of practice where he was going through the whole deal."

Wynn was limited to five carries for 24 yards and one pass reception good for 27 last week.

Wynn will likely split time at tailback Saturday with redshirt freshman Markus Manson, last week's leading rusher with 45 yards on seven carries. Manson has continued his improvement in practice this week to the point that Meyer is starting to sound quite confident.

"He's getting better every day," said Meyer. "He's night and day to what he was."

READYING FOR DEATH VALLEY: The atmosphere at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge is about as hostile as it gets for visiting teams. Dubbed "Death Valley" by the media back in the 1950s, Tiger Stadium has been expanded to more than 91,000 capacity, which makes one of the loudest stadiums in America even more deafening when the crowd really gets into a game.

To prep for what is expected to be a louder and more electric atmosphere than the Gators experienced at Tuscaloosa, the Gators have been piping in crowd noise all week.

"We did practice noise every day this week instead of twice, we're going at it every day this week," said Meyer after practice.

The biggest problem for Florida, like any visiting team to Tiger Stadium, is the offensive line picking up the snap count. That was a real problem for the Gators in Tuscaloosa.

"We had a tackle get beat underneath by a pass rush move because he was late off the ball so you work on that because you're not going to be able to hear the cadence," said Meyer. "We're trying to do as much as we can to help the guys."

Meyer said he felt the problems with crowd noise at Alabama were compounded by missing a few plays that could have changed the game's momentum.

"We score on that one yard line and we knock a couple of balls down and everybody says we handled that noise fine," said Meyer. "I think it's just getting in position to make plays."

PRACTICE GOALS ON SCHEDULE: Meyer felt the Gators are where they should be as far as reaching their midweek practice goals.

"We're right on target for Wednesday practice," he said. "Tomorrow (Thursday) is critical. They [LSU] do a bunch of things on defense and offense that's not a real standard look. You're going to see a bunch of things and that kind of slows things down in practice because you have to run it back and show 'em and show 'em and show 'em. We had extra walk through times today because they do a variety of things especially on defense that you gotta be prepared for."

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