Donovan updates injuries

Even with Florida's 4-0 start to conference play this season, the Gators are still not at full strength. Nagging injuries have plagued the team since preseason practice began. Florida now heads back to the road for conference games this week at Georgia and Mississippi State without forward Casey Prather. Forward Erik Murphy is one of the other players that are playing through pain.

Casey Prather started rehabbing his high ankle sprain on Monday but won't practice at all this week. The Gators play at Georgia (7-10, 1-3 SEC) and Mississippi State (7-9, 2-2) this week without Prather. He was in a boot since the injury happened and took it off for the first time on Sunday.

The original estimate was 10-14 days. Fourteen days from the injury would be Saturday's Mississippi State game for a return, but Florida coach Billy Donovan and the training staff don't want to rush him back.

"The major concern with the injury right now is bringing him back too soon and having to deal with lingering pain and discomfort, and him being hobbled by this the rest of the year," Donovan said. "Our feeling is since we've come this far, let's try to get him fully healthy."

Prather has been a force on both ends of the floor

Prather will focus on his rehab for this week while not stepping on the floor for practice. The staff will reevaluate Donovan "in another six days or so" to see if he can start practicing again. They'll need to see how he plays on the ankle before putting him back on the floor during a game.

While Prather is out, forward Erik Murphy continues to play through fractured ribs.

Murphy first missed the game against Yale on January 6 with a rib injury, and the training staff found soon after that there was a fracture. The game at Yale was the only one he missed. Team doctors told him that there isn't a risk to further injure it. Murphy can play, as long as he can tolerate the pain. It hasn't slowed him yet.

Murphy led the Gators with 15 points in 26 minutes played on Saturday against Missouri. He continues to play with a jacket of padding on, constructed by men's basketball trainer Dave Werner.

"Duke pads it up pretty good, so it doesn't really hurt that much when I get hit on it," Murphy said. "Just trying to take care of it every day. Ice it. It's getting better. The longer I wait, the better it'll get. It's healing over time, feeling better. But it's not that bad when I'm playing. Duke has it padded really well."

Any pain Murphy suffers from on the court hasn't changed the way he plays. He's still close to the basket, banging with bigger players while going for rebounds and loose balls. Murphy has even gotten on the floor and forced his way into piles trying to fight for a loose ball.

"It says a lot about him and his commitment to try to get out there and practice," Donovan said. "It's his commitment to deal with some of the things he's had to deal with this year physically. I think it says a lot of him, and that's what you want."

When the injury happened, the team trainers wanted Murphy to relax and come back slowly. He wouldn't hear any of it. Murphy missed one day of practice with the injury. There have been no setbacks or worsening of the injury.

"He's padded up pretty well," Donovan said. "I think the big part for him right now is he wants to get the padding off because it's just uncomfortable and awkward to play with."

There's no timetable for losing the jacket. Murphy said he might test playing without the extra padding when the pain is gone, but he trusts Werner to ultimately make the final call.

Murphy is playing physical while hurt

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