Oh, and within reason so is Green's knee; the one injured in the Auburn game and which sidelined one of State's top playmaking threats the rest of the season. Through the opening round of spring practicing Green has taken things somewhat easy. "I got a little work done," he reminded, all of it within the context of specific tight end group drills as well as a fair bit of 7-on-7 passing periods.
"Right now basically what I do is I run every day, making sure I can do cuts and stuff. I try to do all the individual drills, and it's coming along."
Contact? Nope, not yet and probably not the rest of this camp. Just noticing how that leg is wrapped and braced confirms this call. "It kind of gives out on me, but I'm alright. My rehab is going pretty well," Green reported.
Rehab is a topic that unfortunately Green is very familiar with. Fans certainly recall how his 2008 freshman season ended after two games, which included a 50-yard grab down the middle against Southeastern Louisiana. That very play actually contributed to a condition involving strained pelvic and groin muscles that left everyone frustrated for months. Ultimately a Philadelphia specialist was able to offer a fix, and in 2009 everyone got to see why there'd been so much freshman fuss over the Scooba native's sheer potential.
Green caught 27 balls his first year in Mullen's offense, more than all MSU tight ends tallied in all of 2008 combined; for 306 yards and three touchdowns. The most memorable of course was his high-skying grab in the end zone of a Chris Relf lob in the Egg Bowl upset success. So such things were expected in 2010 too, until the knee was wrenched a wrong way in game-two after three catches and 36 yards.
At least this latest injury is a more straight-forward proposition for both repair and rehab, and Green has seen other such situations enough to be confident how the process will play out. For now, "I think I'm about 75%," he said. "I can cut, I can run a route full-speed. My timing is a little off, that's where I'm at right now." In other words, nothing that can't be overcome.
It also helps Green's own personal process that he knows where he stands in State's system. Perhaps were he a younger or less-proven player he would be trying to rush the return, force things too fast. Green has made plays in SEC action and is entirely confident he will again this fall. He has a whole year playing in Mullen's system and another one watching, while serving as something of an unofficial bench-coach to his fellow tight ends at times. So, while another extended stint on the sideline isn't any fun, neither will Green push the process unnecessarily.
Besides, just by being able to participate in some drills, he avoids the worst possible State fate: exile to Coach Matt Balis' practice-time Pit where other recovering Dogs do more work than those practicing. Much, much more. As for what he does miss this spring, Green isn't worried. Summer is coming.
"I'll catch up very quick. I'm just trying to get my knee time to heal and make sure I don't do nothing to aggravate it. Basically I'm letting time handle it."
Meanwhile time is showing some interesting fresh aspects to the Mississippi State offense. This might be the only thing tempting Green to hasten the comeback, because what parts he has been able to practice hint at how much he and his fellow tight ends have to look forward to come fall.
"It's pretty exciting! We do a lot of stuff in it, the tight end is very involved in it," he said of the year-three offensive ideas. We can play wideout, we can play receiver, we can play anything really. We can even go to a fullback so it's very diverse."
Did he say, diverse? Indeed he did, and that reflects not just the ways Coach Scott Sallach wants to position his blocker/eligible receivers? Besides seniors Green and Kendrick Cook there are some younger faces lining up in these tight- and split-slots. They don't look like traditional tight ends, but then redshirts Brandon Hill and Malcolm Johnson bring exciting other skills to the position(s). Take it from an expert, as Green himself blocks like a true guard but runs routes like a wideout.
Variety, he says, is a very good thing.
"Well, we're all different you know? And it just adds flavor to the offense bringing in players like that."
Fans will get to sample some of the ‘flavor' as State resumes spring practicing with workouts Thursday, Friday, and Saturday this week.