Sunday Football Practice Report

Mississippi State continued game-week work for the upcoming Thursday evening season-opener with a Sunday session of just over two hours. "We did pretty good work," Coach Sylvester Croom said. "It went a little bit longer than I like to because we were a little slower with the offense running against the defense, but I thought we did some good stuff."

For the Sunday practice, which corresponds to a Tuesday in more routine game-weeks, Mississippi State worked in shells. This was after a Saturday session of just helmets and shorts, as Croom tries to keep the physical demands down while stressing more technical aspects of preparation. The Bulldogs have not worn full gear or made tackle-contact since the second and final preseason scrimmage of last Saturday. Croom planned this approach to the second half of pre-season all along, but the decisions were made that much easier by a number of injuries with implications to the depth chart on both sides.

*There was some progress on the injury front as WR Tony Burks, hampered by a sore right knee since the second scrimmage a week ago, was upgraded from red-cross to limited-yellow. He was able to run and catch in unit drills. And starting right OT J.D. Hamilton, who had been in yellow for over two weeks, was in varsity maroon again.

Players still sidelined in red-crosses today were DE Tim Bailey and WR Ryan Mason. Bailey came out to open practice then went indoors for treatment. For the first time since his toe injury Wednesday, WR Lance Long was allowed to go out to the practice field in a red cross instead of staying in the training room with his ‘turf toe' injury. Long still can't practice but was riding the exercise bike on the side and stretching, in case he gets cleared for the Thursday game.

"Lance didn't get to work today, but he is getting better," Croom said. "Tony came back out and did some good things for a while. So did (TE) Dezmond Sherrod. We tried not to over-tax them, but it looks like they're going to make it. It's just a matter of how much they can do, but right now I think they'll play."

Sherrod and TE Brandon Henderson were both in limited-yellow. S Demario Bobo and SN Aaron Feld are still in limited-purple but taking some practice turns.

During practice, in a 7-on-7 running drill, DE Brandon Cooper went down holding his right leg and was carted to the training room. His injury, along with Bailey's continued sideline-status and the loss of Charles Burns for the year to shoulder surgery, leave a thin roster of defensive ends.

Croom had not heard from the physicians what Cooper's problem was immediately after practice, and was going to check. He did say Bailey should be back for the game. "But we're still not as deep as we'd like to be. The injury to Charles Burns really hurt our depth.

"If worse comes to worse one of those inside guys will have to go out there. But we have some packages where we can do some things to help out there. It's not the ideal situation but all can't be!"

*State is certainly hoping to have Burks at full-speed for gametime, or at least available for a percentage of offensive plays. His and Mason's injuries leave a ‘starting' group of four primary wide receivers as of now; with Brandon McRae and Co-Eric Riley the top two, and Jamayel Smith and Aubrey Bell next in the rotation.

*Practice began with punting and coverage drills. Blake McAdams did all the first-group kicking and was much more consistent in both distance and hang-time than at any point of this camp. PK Adam Carlson took several punts afterwards with the second unit. S Derek Pegues is the return man so there it is a matter of settling who else to call on if need arises. Freshman Wade Bonner has been #2 on punt returns, and with Long injured juco CB Chris Nance is now third. Today, both WR Jamayel Smith and S De'Mon Glanton got to catch a couple of punts off Carlson's foot.

As to coverage, starting cornerbacks Anthony Johnson and Marcus Washington are the first ‘gunners' with CB Jasper O'Quinn and DB Jarvis Williams seconds; and CB Tay Bowser and WR Alex Carpenter third pair.

Gene's Page Top Stories