Gross Out For Year

It was learned Tuesday at practice that Ole Miss senior Defensive Tackle Issac Gross has sustained a neck injury and will miss the rest of the 2015 season.

It was also learned the South Panola product played with the injury against UT-Martin and was "fortunate" to come out of the game with no further injury.

The skuttlebutt around practice was that Issac's injury is very similar to what Peyton Manning suffered three-four years ago. Gross is eligible for a redshirt and is it anticipated he can come back from the injury next season. Issac missed some time three years ago with a neck injury, but it is not known if the recent injury is tied to the old one.

Gross is known for his quick first step and ability to penetrate despite being less than 250 pounds.

The Rebels got back to practice after Saturday's 76-3 win over UT-Martin and, other than Gross, all players were present and accounted for - ready to work.

Random Notes:

* JUCO DT D.J. Jones graded "extremely high" in the opener and that was particularly impressive because David, as he prefers to be called, played two positions - nose tackle and DT.

* Freshman DT Ross Donnelly played against UT-Martin and was penciled in to be the sixth DT in the rotation. With Gross being out, he's now number 5. Heady stuff for a true freshman in a situation where five DTs will play extensively.

* DT Breeland Speaks was suspended for the first half of the UT-Martin game, but when he came in the game, he made his presence known quickly. The MLB at the time missed filling his gap, Speaks slid out to cover the missed assignment and showed his athleticism, running down the RB for a short gain. As one coach said, "that showed us all we need to know about Breeland."

* Kickoff specialist Nathan Noble had an outstanding day, kicking off high and deep on every kickoff, and there were plenty. Surprisingly, it is not a huge gain in strength that has him booming the ball. It's technique. Like a golf swing, Nathan is actually swinging his leg "slower" and making better, more consistent contact. Consequently, the ball is going further more often.

* A lot of people wondered where TE Evan Engram was Saturday. The answer? Mostly on the bench. He only played 12 snaps in the game. There was no way the coaches were going to risk Evan getting some "freak" injury. Can you blame them?

* All three quarterbacks graded "very well" in the area of decision-making against the Skyhawks. After protecting the ball, that's number one with Dan Werner, the quarterbacks coach.

* A player who madre an unexpected good impression was RB D.K. Buford. He showed some instincts that can't be coached - setting up blocks, patience, bursting at the right time, cutting in the right direction. The inside word is D.K. needs to lose 5-10 pounds and regain his speed and quickness he displayed in high school. He has bulked up to nearly 215 pounds and was a "jet" at Lafayette HS at 200-205 pounds.

* Starting LG Javon Patterson, a true freshman, graded higher than any offensive lineman - 90% - in the opener. We were told he had "no MAs" (missed assignments). Pretty heady stuff for a true frosh. . . We were also told RT Sean Rawlings, who got his first career start and playing time, also graded "very well." Good to know moving forward.

* As Hugh Freeze said in Monday's presser, Rod Taylor worked at left tackle in Tuesday's practice with the first team. Taylor returned to practice after dislocating his shoulder in August practice in a boxing match.

* LT Laremy Tunsil is dressing out and is practicing with the team. His situation for Saturday in not clear, but he's ready if he's declared good to play.

* Redshirt freshman Jordan Sims was getting some reps Tuesday with the number one OL at right guard ahead of Justin Bell. Jordan is coming on strong since last spring.

* Personal protectors for the punter with the shield protection? Three big, athletic men - Robert Nkemdiche, Fadol Brown, John Youngblood. Their backups? Three more biguns - Channing Ward, Jeremy Liggins and Breeland Speaks.

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