Practice Report: Thursday

After all the dust settled from the maelstrom of rumors circulating today about MLB Patrick Willis and LBs Garry Pack and Kelvin Robinson, Coach Ed Orgeron cleared the air on the subject. Read about it inside.

Amidst a "ton" of rumors, the truth was in there somewhere about the status of starting LBs Patrick Willis, Garry Pack and Kelvin Robinson.

Directly from Ed Orgeron's mouth after an hour-and-a-half practice in shorts and helmets, Orgeron made his statement.

"Patrick has a sprained foot and is questionable for Saturday's game," Orgeron began. "Knowing Patrick, he will try to play. Garry Pack injured his ribs yesterday, but practiced and will play against Arkansas. Kelvin Robinson (neck) will also play - they both practiced today."

While Orgeron sounded optimistic that Willis would give it a try, contingency plans are already made.

"If Patrick cannot go, Garry will move to MLB, Dontae Reed will take Garry's place, Kelvin will stay at WLB and Quentin Taylor will be worked into the mix," Coach O said. "We worked Bryant Thomas and Lamark Armour at LB yesterday, but those are emergency only situations.

"If Patrick cannot play, we will miss a lot. His 15 tackles a game to start with, his leadership and experience, but I think we will be OK. Garry is an experienced player and Kelvin is a leader out there. We are better off than earlier in the year when we had to throw freshman Robert Russell in there without any experience. We really had a freakish day yesterday, but fortunately it wasn't as bad as was earlier thought or earlier circulated."

LB Coach Shawn Slocum had some further comments about the Rebs' linebacking situation.

"If Patrick isn't out there, it goes without saying we will miss him, but I have confidence in Garry at MLB. He'll have some adjustments to make - plaing inside-out versus outside-in like he does at Sam LB, but he played in the middle in high school and has a grasp of what we are doing there," Slocum noted. "He's not in awe of playing in the middle and is a good player. It was a strange day yesterday (when all three starting LBs had to leave practice), but this is football and injuries happen. You just have to move forward. You can't hang your head. We'll be fine. I have confidence in the threesome of Dontae, Garry and Kelvin if Patrick can't go."

Lost in the shuffle of the Willis "uproar," the Rebels will be starting a different QB this week as well, Ethan Flatt. Flatt was 9-17 with one interception on a tipped pass good for 158 yards in today's non-contact work.

"Ethan has done well in practice. His reads have been good and he knows our offense. The test will be Saturday though - how he handles Arkansas' blitz package, etc," Coach O noted. "We are confident he will do well, though."

Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone believes Flatt will produce against the Hogs.

"He wasn't real sharp Tuesday, but the last two days he has done better. Ethan is a smart player who will get us in the plays we want and will execute the offense and his position well," Mazzone added. "I like how his read progressions have been decisive and his decision-making has been pretty good. He's getting the ball to the right players on time."

Converted QB Robert Lane has also been more visible in this week's gameplan, but the Hogs will have a hard time figuring out where he's going to line up. He's been playing several positions, including some QB, this week.

"We've been expanding his play package each week and hope to be able to get him the ball more," said Mazzone.

Coach Orgeron addressed the press after practice and asked for some "restraints" on practice reports for the rest of the season. He asked the media not to address injuries without getting his statement on them individually and that we no longer file play-by-play reports. We understand his reasons, which he explained thoroughly, and will honor his wishes.

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