Practice Report: Thursday

Senior DT Peria Jerry and LB Allen Walker returned to practice today in limited roles, but as they were entering, LT Michael Oher was leaving with what was hoped to be a minor arm injury and frosh TE E.J. Epperson was sitting out with a hyperextended knee.

The injury list didn't shrink today, but it did have two-way action.

The total number of walking wounded in the Rebel ranks remained the same, but there were a couple of important changes.

While senior LT Michael Oher, with what Coach Houston Nutt said was a minor arm injury, and freshman Tight End E.J. Epperson joined the hobbled with a hyperextended knee he said would cost him "three or four days" of practice, senior stalwart DT Peria Jerry and LB Allen Walker came off the list, dressed in full pads, and did limited work in their first day back.

"It was good to see Peria and Allen come back, even though we limited what we let them do, but we are in praying mode for Michael Oher. He took a helmet on his arm and had to leave practice to get an X-ray. We think it's going to be OK, at least I'm praying it will be," said Nutt. "Peria adds energy, leadership and a lot of intangibles. It's hard not to have him out there. He got a lot of good reps, but we limited him in team work and in goalline drills. His conditioning was fine - he's going to be OK. He trained hard in the offseason and that showed in his comeback with his conditioning. He wants to be in there all the time, but he won't scrimmage anymore. He's been in enough wars. He doesn't have to prove anything to us.

"Michael Oher took a helmet on the forearm, but we think he's going to be able to tape it up and go, at least that's waht I'm praying for. Pray with me. We are anticipating it's minor. Hey, it's got to be."

The Rebels went through nearly 1 hour and 15 minutes of team (11 on 11) work today with the best going against the best. Nutt said for the third day in a row he was pleased.

"They are giving us good effort and haven't lulled the past three days. That's what we need as we develop as a team," he added. "In Saturday's scrimmage, we probably won't go as long as we did last Saturday and I am also going to take a long look at the twos, threes and freshmen. We'll go one on one at the end."

DC Tyrone Nix told the media today that MLB Tony Fein has come on strong of late. Houston's view?

"Tyrone has been the best thing to happen to Tony. He's starting to understand what we want. We want more mouth closed and talking with the helmet and he's giving us that now," Houston explained. "I know he's an emotional guy and wants to be a leader, but first things first. His school wasn't together and his attitude wasn't together. That affected his play. He's getting that right and he's more of a teammate now. That's waht we want - 105 teammates.

"We have never questioned his courage or toughness. All he needs to do is channel all that energy in the right direction and we are seeing signs of that now."

Random Notes:

* The injury list: Gerg Hardy (foot surgery), Reid Neely (Achilles strain), Bobby Peterson, (Mike Wallace (hamstring), Cordera Eason (dental work), Brandon Sanders (shoulder), Michael Oher (arm), LaMark Armour (knee), Ted Laurent (knee), Chris Bowers (knee), Dan Hoffman (knee), E.J. Epperson (knee).

* Injury notes: Wallace ran laps today at half-speed and declared he will be back "real soon.". . . . Neely stretched with the team today and said he is "much better.". . . .Eason is expected back "by the weekend" but he probably won't scrimmage Saturday. . . . . Laurent jogged some laps today and it did not look like he was favoring his surgically repaired knee at all. . . WR Markeith Summers bruised some ribs yesterday, but he dressed out and practiced in a green jersey, signifying no contact.

* In the one-on-one full contact drills prior to practice, the biggest collision came when rejuvenated MLB Tony Fein, who DC Tryone Nix said today is "in a real battle for the starting slot with Jonathan Cornell," matched brute force with backup FB Andy Hartmann. The collison was violent, but most gave the edge to Hartmann, even though Fein got him on the ground after a short gain. That's quite a match - two guys who live for contact.

* Fans have been asking about the tight end depth chart. While the media cannot watch any team (11 on 11) drills until Saturday's scrimmage, when they were running skeleton plays against air, senior David Traxler and junior Gerald Harris were splitting time with the number one offense and Reggie Hicks was taking number three snaps along with Ben Benedetto.

* One underappreciated skill that is so vital to a game, but is taken for granted, is placement holder. Ask Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo in the playoffs two years ago how important placement holds are. Well, the Rebel snaps are in good hands, literally, with senior Rob Park. In the tradition of former Rebs Cody Ridgeway and Charles Childers, two of the best at holding for placements, Park is sure-handed, quick, the ball is always placed with the laces out, exact where he places the ball and able to save poor snaps when they do occur. Park is as good at that tedious skill as anyone who has played here in the last 30 years and he proves it time after time.

* Who will be in the wide receiver rotation? A lot of that depends on how many players WR Coach Ron Dickerson decides to play. If it's six, look for it to be Wallace, Dexter McCluster, Shay Hodge, Lionel Breaux, Markeith Summers and either Andrew Harris or Jacarious Lucas. A good battle is going on for the sixth slot. If seven, all the above will get the nod and play significantly.

* PK Josh Shene was 2-2 in field goals today from mid-range.

* The Rebel special teams staff led by ST Coordinator James Shibest, worked on a lot of lane assignments in coverage and in blocking today. It was mostly full thud work and it involved most of the coaches working different skills. This staff does not give lip service to special teams. They work it long and hard every day.

* OK. You are receiving a kick and the four players coming back to you to set up the first wall of blocking/protection are about to be chosen. Who would you want taking on the fleet coverage people? Andy Hartmann for sure. Jason Cook absolutely. Derrick Davis is fast enough and brutal enough. And Ben Benedetto will stick his nose in a meat grinder if asked to. Sound like a good four? That's who the Rebs are currently using to spring the KOR guys.

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