Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt got what he was looking for in the three open week practices that concluded Thursday afternoon after a short, full-pad workout on the practice fields.
"We needed to stay focused and tuned in. We got a little something going the last two weeks and need to take that on to the Alabama game," said Nutt, who is giving the team Friday and Saturday off before returning Sunday to get into their normal game week preparations. "We had a good week of practice. We just need to get some injured players back.
"We'll come back Sunday with a more rigorous Sunday than normal. It will be more like a Tuesday practice with full pads. We usually practice for an hour or so on Sunday. This week, it will be a full practice."
In case you haven't been keeping up, the Rebels have had four cases of concussions in the past two weeks - CB Jeremy McGee, who is now healthy, CB Charles Sawyer, CB Marcus Temple and S Brishen Mathews.
"We tell them every day to keep their eyes and their head up and see what they are hitting, but on a couple of these they have put their heads down and that's trouble," said Nutt. "You are asking for it if you duck your head.
"I feel good about them getting back Sunday. I think we are getting close to them being back. They jogged today and did not have headaches so that's a good sign. I'm crossing my fingers for good news Sunday from (Trainer) Tim (Mullins)."
The Rebs have been going strong since August with no days off other than the mandatory one day a week. Ole Miss takes that day on Monday, so there are still classes to attend - hardly a "day off."
"It will be good for them to catch their breath a little bit and then come back strong. They'll have fresh legs and should be tuned in and ready to go," Nutt noted.
With several players out, it was an opportunity for some of the younger guys to get more valuable reps.
"A.J. Hawkins may not be able to go against Alabama so this was a valuable week for Evan Swindall. If he plays, he will be going against a great one," Nutt stated. "Jared Duke also got a lot of needed reps at right tackle.
"We are experimenting some with our defensive line, so LaMark Armour got some reps at defensive end, along with Cameron Whigham and Carlos Thompson. We had a lot of things happening out here this week."
Armour trying his hand at defensive end presents some different scenarios.
LaMark started his career at Ole Miss at DE, but with a couple of knee injuries and added body weight, he was moved inside and has been solid. With the lack of production at DE, the coaches are trying everything they can think of to get something going on the edge.
"LaMark does not have the ideal burst we are looking for off the edge, but he's physical and certainly doesn't get knocked around out there," Nutt explained. "He's also a little quicker off the ball than you might think. So far, he's looked pretty good out there. We'll see where that takes us."
* Backup OLB Rudy Wilson sat out Thursday with bruised ribs from a collision in practice Wednesday. He should return to practice Sunday.
* RT Bobby Massie missed Thursday's practice after turning his ankle in the Kentucky game and then coming down with a stomach bug this week. He should be back in action Sunday.
* WR Lionel Breaux (bruised knee) is also expected back Sunday after missing this week to let the swelling in his knee subside.
* SS Johnny Brown (bruised knee/hamstring) and C A.J. Hawkins (stinger) have shown improvement, but it's too early to call on their return.
* TB Enrique Davis (scope on knee) also falls in the "too early to tell" category.
* PK Bryson Rose returned to action Thursday after sitting out Tuesday and Wednesday to rest a sore hamstring. He was good on three mid-range kicks in the early going of practice.
* DE Carlos Thompson (groin) and WR Korvic Neat (hamstring) appeared to be going full speed in the early drills Thursday. They both dressed for practice yesterday but were limited.
* As Nutt said, keep your fingers crossed for the return of Sawyer, Temple and Mathews. All signs right now are good for their return, but there is no playing around with concussions these days. They are serious business and are treated as such.
Thursday Practice Report
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