Thursday Practice Report

The Rebel troops are still depleted due to the sickness going around, but the able-bodied marched on in this short open week. In Thursday's practice, the coaches put the 'youngsters' through a scrimmage. Read about it inside.

The Rebels were three more players - one due to injury, two to the flu - short from yesterday in Thursday's practice.

One player - QB Billy Tapp - who missed yesterday was back in action Thursday.

OG Rishaw Johnson and CB Marcus Temple joined the ranks of the ill and MLB Jonathan Cornell (minor neck injury) joined the walking wounded.

Here's the new list: WR Dexter McCluster, WR Shay Hodge, QB Jevan Snead, TE Gerald Harris (hamstring), RT John Jerry, RG Brandon Green, DE Greg Hardy (ankle), DE Kentrell Lockett, DE Marcus Tillman, OLB Allen Walker, CB Marshay Green, SS Johnny Brown, FB Andy Hartman, FB Dan Hoffman, OLB Joel Kight, WR Jesse Grandy, FB Ben Benedetto, TE Ferbia Allen, TB Devin Thomas, TE Reggie Hicks, OL Michael Brown, WR Terrell Grant, SS Derrick Herman, WR Jordan Holder, QB Raymond Cotton, WR Ja'Mes Logan, DE Jason Jones (knee), OG Rishaw Johnson, CB Marcus Temple and MLB Jonathan Cornell (minor neck).

While those are some devastating numbers, the situation is not as bleak as those figures indicate. This is the last day of practice during the open week - practice resumes Sunday, and we were told "quite a few" of the players out could, in a pinch, practice and play if there was a game this open weekend.

"A lot of them are close to being back to normal, but we gave them an extra day to recuperate and gain their strength back due to it being an open week," said Football Trainer Tim Mullins. "We feel most will be ready to go Sunday."

In the meantime, Coach Houston Nutt made the most of the situation, scrimmaging the younger players near the end of practice.

"We got a lot done today despite being depleted," said Nutt. "Our guys got some good work in, especially the young guys. We scrimmaged them and got some good work in there. We paid a lot of attention to the young players this week and it helped them. We're hoping the majority of the ill will be back Sunday."

Individually, Nutt was pleased with the showing of a lot of the young Rebels.

"Nathan Stanley and Raymond Cotton, who is sick now but practiced three days during the week, got a lot of needed reps. The young backs got a lot of attention and improved," he said. "Korvic Neat, Tim Simon, Rodney Scott, and TE Z. Mason were some who looked good this week. Also OT Emmanuel McCray was outstanding all week. S Frank Crawford and CB Charles Sawyer keep showing up as well as Center Chris Gill."

Nutt said there is concern about the loss of strength and conditioning of those who have been out with the flu, but it's hard to gauge how much they will be affected.

"We'll just do the best we can. We will continue lifting and we will run them pretty good Sunday. We will just hope for the best and run them pretty good all next week to get some conditioning back," Houston stated. "The guys who have been sick will be required to stay here for the days off. The injured too."

Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix said he's only been through a week like this one time.

"It's been a weird week. When I was at Southern Mississippi, after one of the hurricanes hit, we had guys who could not get to practice and were stranded at home, but not this many missed," he said. "That's the closest I have been to a situation like this with so many missing."

But he also felt the available Rebels made strides during the open week.

"We worked hard on tackling and fundamentals this week. I think the ones available got better," Nix noted. "Today, CB Ryan Campbell made a play or two, DL Craig Drummond got better this week. Overall, we all got better. We worked hard on knocking people back instead of receiving the hit. We'll see how much progress we made next week.

"Obviously, we were only able to rep the ones here, so we didn't get to do a lot of total unit improvement. But that's just like injury. You go with who is available and make the most of it."

Random Notes:

* With Rishaw Johnson and Brandon Green out, Mark Jean-Louis worked with the first team OL today at right guard. Jean-Louis has played guard before, but has been exclusively at center since last spring. Freshman Bobby Massie was the number one right tackle in John Jerry's absence. The needed added reps Massie is getting can do nothing but help his cause.

* All coaches except Nutt, DC Tyrone Nix and OC Kent Austin are on the road recruiting. Those three ran practice Thursday.

* Sophomore DT Justin Smith, who broke his foot in the preseason, is still on crutches and in a boot. He expects to be out of the boot and off the crutches in two more weeks.

* As reported yesterday, Jason Jones' knee surgery is set for next Tuesday.

* For what seemed like forever, Greg Hardy has been in a boot on his right foot that was broken last August and operated on twice since then. Now, with his recent ankle injury, he's in a boot on his left foot. "I need to get designer boots as much as I am in one," he quipped today.

* Former Rebel Fullback Jason Cook did not make it this year with the Baltimore Ravens. That's the bad news. The good news is that he is returning to Ole Miss and taking a fulltime job with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes as the Football Chaplain. Welcome back, Jason!

* RS frosh PK Bryson Rose, who could be the heir to PK Josh Shene next year, has shown a stronger leg in practice this year than last. Why? The strength and conditioning program. "I have picked up a lot of distance on kickoffs and probably five yards on field goals," Rose said. "Getting stronger definitely makes a difference in kicking."

The Rebs will resume practice Sunday, hopefully with a lot of the sick/injured players back in the fold.

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