Friday Practice Report -

The Ole Miss Rebels concluded two-a-days Friday with two workouts in the Indoor Practice Facility due to rainy weather and wet practice fields. Houston Nutt discusses freshmen most likely to play this year and DE Kentrell Lockett getting a shoulder stinger today. Read about it inside.

Two-a-days are over and all's well that ends well.

The Ole Miss football team got through the grueling part of August practice with only one "major" injury and with, according to Coach Houston Nutt, quite a bit accomplished.

Sophomore Defensive Tackle Justin Smith was the only preseason casualty. Smith, who broke his foot last week and had surgery this past Tuesday, is expected to be out 6-8 weeks.

There were some other minor bumps and bruises, but nothing major.

Junior DE Kentrell Lockett sustained a stinger in goalline drills Friday, but is expected back in "a few days."

"We stayed inside today because the practice fields were too wet. I say it all the time, but thank goodness for the IPF. It's a fantastic facility and we take advantage of it regularly," Nutt said. "We ended with a goalline scrimmage today that was very physical. Kendtrell Lockett got a stinger and will be out a few days. He took a real shot from freshman RB Rodney Scott when Kentrell might have ducked his head a little before impact. He will be real sore for a couple of days. Other than that and Justin Smith, we are fairly healthy.

"I thought the backup OL showed up today, guys like Mark Jean-Louis, Rishaw Johnson, Emmanuel McCray, Bobby Massie led the way for us to score from in close a couple of times and that was encouraging. I also thought Nathan Stanley threw the ball well today while we were resting Jevan Snead a little. Shay Hodge had two beautiful catches in the end zone. Kendrick Lewis, Cassius Vaughn and Marshay Green also continue to lead our secondary and do good things.

"Two-a-days went well. We have identified our players and evaluated them. The next couple of weeks will be getting them in the right spots, putting in our gameplan for Memphis and seeing what our top guys and backups really know. We are starting to zero in on a lot of things now."

The Rebels will have a key scrimmage Saturday at 2:30 p.m. It is a closed practice.

"We will meet tomorrow morning and scrimmage tomorrow afternoon. The ones won't get very many snaps - probably 30 or less. We'll concentrate a lot on the twos and threes tomorrow. We'll take a step closer in determining who will redshirt and who is where on the depth chart. The redshirt issue is hard because a lot of our freshmen are so good, but we will be a step closer after tomorrow," Nutt continued. "We already know these freshmen will play this year: Patrick Patterson, Joel Kight, D.T. Shackelford, Bobby Massie will be on ready but he's got to keep coming, Tyler Campbell and Andrew Ritter will be ready to go but we will see how that plays out in the next week or so, and Jesse Grandy. We are still trying to make decisions on our running backs - Tim Simon, Rodney Scott and Korvic Neat. They are all very good, but I just don't know what we are going to do there yet because Brandon Bolden, Cordera Eason and Enrique Davis are doing better and better. I wish Safety Frank Crawford had been in our weight program a year because he's made a lot of progress lately. He will be a good one."

Random Notes:

* A lot has been written about the way the defense has played thus far. Most of the chatter centers around the speed of the stoppers. But there is more to it than that. They are also playing faster because they are comfortable with Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix's system, being it's their second year in it, and the middle of the back seven is experienced and directing traffic. MLB Jonathan Cornell and FS Kendrick Lewis are making sure everyone is on the same page and doing the right things. Lewis has gotten a lot of ink in the preseason camp, but Cornell not as much. Why? Jonathan is a quiet sort who doesn't seek much attention. He just does his job, and does it well, every day without a lot of fanfare. If the defense is an orchestra, Cornell is the maestro. Not only that, after what he assesses as a somewhat go-by-the-book effort on his part last year individually, Cornell is in a position to venture out and take a few more calculated risks to make big plays due to his knowledge of the defense and feel for what is going on around him. Cornell has been "unsung" so far amidst the Greg Hardys and Dexter McClusters and Jevan Sneads and John Jerrys on the team, but he will have an opportunity to gain equal footing with them this season. Don't be surprised if he does emerge as one of the stars of the team.

* Freshman Cornerback Charles Sawyer is a promising player for the future. He's a little bigger than the Rebs' current starters and he's exhibiting good skills and an innate toughness, but he will be the first to admit he's got a lot of work to do. "My head is spinning a little right now, but I'm not intimidated by the situation," said Sawyer. "In high school, we had man coverage and cover two. You kind of just went out there and played. On this level, there are a lot of different coverages and disguises. I'll get it down, but there is way more to learn than I anticipated."

* FB Dan Hoffman sat out three days with a concussion, but he returned to practice this morning and says he has no after affects at all from the bell ringer he had. . . WR Terrell Grant, who sprained his ankle earlier in the week, also returned to practice today.

* Deep Snapper Preston Powers, entering his third year as a starter, just gets better and better. A good snap on placements is a .8 second operation. Preston is not only accurate and consistent, his time is down to .65 on a regular basis. "I'm real pleased with my times and my accuracy so far," said Preston. "I have adjusted to (holder) Justin (Sparks) real well. He's gotten real good. It's like having Rob (Park) back there again."

* Middle Linebacker Jason Jones sat out the afternoon practice Friday after suffering a minor concussion. He's expected back soon.

* Seeing Greg Hardy in a walking boot at practice is not the ideal situation one would hope for, but it's not as bad as it might appear. Greg practiced Firday morning and rested Friday afternoon. "He was a blur this morning. He didn't have a good practice, he had a great practice this morning," said Nutt. "He is so fast off the ball. I'd like to have him out here every practice, but we're going to continue to be very careful with him.". . . That does not sound like someone who isn't going to be ready to play to us.

* There has been very little kickoff return work done in practice at this point, but a group of players field kicks daily for a few minutes. That group includes Cordera Eason, Brandon Bolden, Cassius Vaughn, Tim Simon, Rodney Scott and Derrick Herman. Those are obviously some of the candidates the coaches are considering and are the bigger body type ST Coordinator James Shibest likes returning kickoffs. We'll see if that holds true. Shibest also mentioned he's been toying with the idea of putting Grandy back there because of his speed, but he's concerned about Jesse's size right now.

* DL Coach Terry Price would like to have a five-tackle rotation. He thought he had that until Smith went down with the broken foot. Now, he's searching for a fifth guy. Will it be Craig Drummond, who recently moved inside from DE? Will it be true frosh Corey Gaines? Or will Price settle on four tackles - Scott, Laurent, Powe and Armour - until Smith comes back midway through the season? "I'm hoping Drummond will be it, but I won't know anything until after a couple of more scrimmages," Price noted. . . Could it be a positive indicator for Drummond that in the bull-in-the-ring drill to kick start the contact portion of the afternoon practice Drum schooled OG Alex Washington in a one-on-one match? Time will tell.

* The number two offensive line now looks like this: LT Logan Clair, LG A.J. Hawkins, C Mark Jean-Louis, RG Alex Washington and RT Bobby Massie. On paper, that looks OK, but if you look closely, all are in different stages of being ready. Clair may need more strength, A.J. more experience, Mark has to get his QB exchanges down better, Washington is learning a new position and Massie is talented but real raw. . . OL Coach Mike Markuson is starting to give Massie extra reps in practice by letting him play some with the first unit as well as all the second unit snaps. That serves two purposes. One, it gets more reps for Massie and more exposure against the Reb first team. Two, it protects John Jerry from any unnecessary risk of a practice injury.

* Two questions are always asked about freshmen - Will they play? Will they impact the team? From the early going, it appears safe to say that both frosh linebackers - MLB D.T. Shackelford and OLB Joel Kight - will do both. They will not only play on several special teams each, they are next in line behind the starters on the depth chart landscape. By our definition, that's impacting the team.


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