Hits Keep Coming

Amidst the jarring NCAA ruling against senior quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, Ole Miss returned to the practice fields Tuesday in full pads.

But even with the team's season opener against Jacksonville State just days away, moving past earlier developments of an eventful day weren't easy. Well, to the media, anyway.

Ole Miss went about its business, according to head coach Houston Nutt.

"Pretty good practice, considering," he said. "I thought we got after it pretty good, just got to get a little more focused as we get into game week. Everybody's excited. It was a hard Tuesday, cause you got so many things were thrown at you."

Not that practice went off without yet another glitch. Nutt announced that senior defensive end Kentrell Lockett will be unavailable Saturday. Lockett is dealing with an irregular rhythm of his heart, a complication the training staff intends to handle slowly.

"A pretty big blow," Nutt said. "He's got a little heartbeat out of rhythm right now. He's in Ohio right now running some tests. He will not be available for game one, for sure. That was our captain. Boy, that was a blow."

In Lockett's absence, sophomore Gerald Rivers was moved to the starting unit. Depth, though, will be handled by committee. Among those who could contribute include Jason Jones, Carlos Thompson, Delvin Jones and Cameron Whigham.

"All hands on deck," said Nutt. "Carlos (Thompson) is a good rusher. He does some things good. Delvin Jones has the body, but his knee's swollen right now. They've had a few bumps, but hopefully we'll get that out of the way and get them involved."

As to the quarterbacks, Tuesday was no different. Nathan Stanley, the starter, and Randall Mackey took all the snaps with the first-team offense.

However, the inevitable questions of Masoli were asked, and Nutt had no problem with his answers. He remains optimistic that the situation will ultimately turn for the positive.

Masoli, Stanley

"I always look at things like that in a positive way," he said. "I've got a feeling the committee will look at it and look at the rules. He wasn't suspended by the university; he was suspended by the team. This will be the first waiver judgment like this.

"I know he's high-profile, but I've kicked guys off before and I want them to go play somewhere else. Because I feel like they'll learn from us and they'll be better if they truly want to change their life. I truly feel that way about Jeremiah."

Nutt has been proud of the way Stanley has handled the entire process.

"He's been so level-headed," Nutt said. "He's stayed focused, and that's what he has to do. No matter what would happen with Jeremiah, he knew he was going to play. Gotta be ready."

Random Notes:

* The injury report, outside of the Lockett development, remained the same Tuesday, as linebacker Mike Marry and safety Fon Ingram were again limited to no contact. Marry is dealing with a lingering hamstring injury, while Ingram recently underwent knee surgery and is out two to four weeks. Cliff Coleman is still recovering from a stress fracture in his foot.

* On Lockett, head athletic trainer Tim Mullins said there is no timetable for the team captain's return. The staff will take the "rhythm problem" with his heart a day at a time. Lockett was removed from the field in the team's final tune-up before game week last Saturday as a precautionary measure.

"He's stable and in normal sinus rhythm right now," Mullins said. "He's doing good. It's just we've got to get him checked out to make sure he's OK. We're just going on the specialists and what they have to say."

Lockett has seen numerous specialists and doctors for the condition, including in Memphis. Lockett is currently being observed at the Cleveland Clinic, which specializes in heart and vascular health.

Kentrell Lockett

"Once we have a final diagnosis, we'll be able to talk about it more," Mullins said. "Right now, it's going to be day by day. We've just got a lot of tests that are going to be done. We got more tomorrow and throughout the week."

* Quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator Dave Rader had few words when responding to the NCAA ruling on the most experienced of his three quarterbacks.

"I'm disappointed for the young man," he said.

However, Rader said he has "total and complete confidence" in Stanley and Mackey, while walk-on Evan Ingram becomes the third-team quarterback. Rader said Stanley has graded out higher in August than at any time during spring practices in April.

"He's made better decisions for us on a more consistent basis," Rader assessed. "He's shown that he's ready and I have confidence that he sees this as an opportunity and not a situation."

* Redshirt freshman cornerback Frank Crawford returned some punts today. Crawford, who was switched to cornerback in preseason camp, has impressed, having been described as a play-maker by the coaching staff.

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