Practice Report: When it rains, it pours

If there is one thing the Rebels didn't need this week, it was more injuries. But that's what they got today in a full contact practice when CB Travis Johnson, LB Rob Robertson and DT Andrew Wicker went down with what are hoped to be 'minor' injuries.

"I don't know if I've ever been associated with a team this beat up this early in the season," said Coach David Cutcliffe. "This has gotten to the point of being uncanny. We are doing nothing differently and didn't have what you would call a hard-hitting practice today, but three more went down. We're hoping none of them are serious, but (Trainer) Tim Mullins and his staff are going to have their hands full tomorrow morning in treatment.

"As far as the practice was concerned, the kids we had available worked hard and did some good things. We gave a lot of reps to the backups today because it looks like if this injury bug continues that we will have to play some of them more than we anticipated, maybe this weekend."

We may as well get right to the injury report.

DT Chris Herring: Calf muscle pull. Did not dress for practice. Doubtful for Saturday's game.

DT Daniel Booth: Calf muscle pull. Did not pracice. Questionable for Saturday's game.

CB Travis Johnson: MCL sprain of left knee, preliminary diagnosis. Will know more tomorrow.

LB Rob Robertson: Back spasms. Will probably be OK for Saturday.

DT Andrew Wicker: Back injury - nerve damage that is shooting down his legs a little. Status unknown.

DT Jeremy Garrett: AC joint in shoulder. Dressed in yellow jersey today, but has a chance to play against Wyoming.

LT Bobby Harris: Sprained ankle. In a yellow jersey today. Tried to get a few snaps, but was limited and still favoring the ankle.

DE Corey Mills: Groin pull. He said it was no better today. Doubtful for the Wyoming game.

WR Bill Flowers: Lacerated kidney. Out indefinitely, at least this week, maybe more.

* On the good news side of the injury slate, DT Michael Bozeman (concussion) came back today after missing a little over a week. He said he felt fine, but was a little out of shape. He said he will be OK by game time Saturday.

* As Cutcliffe said, a lot of reps were dedicated to the backups today. QB Robert Lane, directing the number two offense quite a bit, got an extra dose of reps and did some nice things in the passing department. The number two offensive line was also a point of emphasis today. "The way we are getting injured, some kids have to step up in a hurry. And we have to help them with some extra reps in practice. They've been getting a lot since August, but we feel we have to increase them some to help them along," Cut noted.

* With Travis Johnson out, Nate Banks took over the number one left corner slot. Nate has been practicing well of late and is ready to play some, but starting? Who knows? We may or may not see Saturday. If the Rebs have to go with a three-man rotation at corner, Bryant Thomas will be the swing player. He has worked both sides in practice in his career and understands the landscape.

* With Booth, Herring, Garrett and (today) Wicker out at DT, McKinley Boykin, Bozeman and Dedrick Clark got more reps than they probably wanted. DT Coach Rick Petri said after practice, "There's no need asking me about a rotation yet. I have no clue at this point. I think Jeremy and Wicker will be back, but I don't look for Daniel or Chris back before Saturday," he said. "We will do like we did last week against Vanderbilt - the best we can. We had to play things by feel last week and keep a close eye on who needed a rest because of our lack of bodies. We'll probably have to do the same this week."

* The wide receiver rotation is also in limbo a bit, but not like the DTs. Will the Rebs opt to play Larry Kendrick, who has been playing some wideout this week and has looked pretty good? "Larry is a natural there, physically. He's got great hands and is very strong. He has excellent ball skills. His routes need a lot of work, but physically he's what you are looking for. We'll see what happens, but he might play some Saturday at WR on top of his DB duties," said WR Coach T.D. Woods. "Right now, I'd say we will probably go with Frank Clayton if we need another body. He's had a good week of practice to this point and has become more consistent in his game.". . . For sure, Mario Hill, Taye Biddle, Kerry Johnson, Mike Espy and Matt Pierce will be in the rotation. We'd be willing to bet Clayton and Kendrick get some action too due to the altitude. While the coaches and trainers seem to feel the altitude will not be a major factor, it will be some kind of factor. How much remains to be seen.

* The offensive line, without Bobby Harris, remains the same as last week. LT Tre' Stallings, LG Doug Buckles, C Chris Spencer, RG Tony Bonds and RT Marcus Johnson. . . The main reason Cutcliffe and company are trying to get more of the backups ready for some duty is that Bonds and Stallings both sustained minor knee injuries in the Vandy game. While they are OK right now, a flare up is a concern. The main candidates right now are Darryl Harris at tackle and Ryan Jones at guard.

* Ethan Flatt took the majority of number one snaps today, but Micheal Spurlock also got some and worked some with the twos as well. Ethan threw well today and seemed to be getting a lot of nods of approval from the coaches during team drills and pass scale drills.

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