Practice Report: Thursday

Rain swept into Oxford all day Thursday, forcing the Rebels inside the Indoor Practice Facility for their final full-speed practice of the week. Read about it inside.

The Rebels capped off the full-speed preparations for th Arkansas game in a manner that pleased Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt, returning to the school he coached at for 10 years for the first time.

Rainy weather pushed the Rebels inside - again. The IPF is turning out to be a wise, wise investment.

"The guys practiced hard all week and were very focused, but we have to take it to Saturday," said Nutt. "We need a 60-minute game."

Houston downplayed going back to Arkansas and his emotions about it.

"It's been different, but it hasn't affected me much because I am locked into my team. I am locked into Ole Miss and these players. Once the ball is kicked off, it's just football, and we want to win," he explained.

Random Notes:

* DE Greg Hardy went through most of the drills at today's practice and Nutt expects him to play "some," but how much is yet to be determined. A lot can happen in 48 hours in the healing process. "We'll see how it goes. Hopefully, he'll be ready to go. When you are young, 48 hours can make a lot of difference," Houston said.

* Junior OL Reid Neely appears headed for his first start of the season at LG in place of Darryl Harris, who has an injured elbow sustained in the Alabama game. Darryl is expected to be available for the Arkansas game, however. Starting is nothing new for Neely - he was the starter at LG all of last season, but he admitted he's anxious to get the first play or two behind him and get in a groove early. "It's a big game and I want to do well," Neely said. "I feel good about it, but I'm ready for the game to get here."

* Senior TE David Traxler is out for the second game in a row, Nutt said, with a back injury. No word on when, or if, he will try to return.

* On this week's depth chart, DT Lawon Scott and Ted Laurent are listed in an "or" situation and not a clear one and two, but Lawon has taken most of the reps with the number one defense this week.

* Senior Will Linebacker Ashlee Palmer got off to a slow start this season, so much so that junior Patrick Trahan replaced him in the starting lineup against Florida. From that point on, Palmer has been playing like a dynamo and is now the third-leading tackler on the Rebel defense with 38 stops. "I've become more physical. The coaches challenged me. They said I looked the part but haven't been playing the part, and they were right," said Palmer. "I took that personally and came out with a different attitude. I started playing more physical and it helped my all-around game. It's tough when a coach calls you soft because there's no room for being soft in this conference. This is the toughest conference in America and if you are soft, it's going to show. I sure did not want to be weak link in the defense, but I wasn't making the plays I should have been making. I was missing tackles and coverages and wasn't taking care of my job." Palmer looks for a balanced attack from Arkansas Saturday. "We will stop the run first and then try to limit the pass. Coach (Tyrone) Nix has given us some great gameplans to work with, we just have to execute them," he continued. "I think we will be up for the task. I think we are developing into a great defense. Our defensive line is awesome and our secondary is getting better each week. We are going to be fine.". . . Ashlee's recent surge has perked up the attention level of the pro scouts who come to practice on a weekly basis and watch film of the season. "Palmer has really helped himself lately," said one scout. "We always knew he could run like a deer, but we were waiting to see him become more physical and assert himself more. Starting with the South Carolina game, we have seen that on film. He is definitely a draftable player now. Certainly, we want to see him show that type of play the rest of the season and finish by showing us he is reliable and consistent, but he's on the radar now."

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