Spring Practice #12 Notebook

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - The Rutgers football program can breathe a sigh of relief. Two important personnel, linemen Anthony Davis and George Johnson, suffered lower body injuries during Saturday's intrasquad scrimmage, but will not miss significant time or require surgery.

Vying for a starting role, George Johnson quickly ended his Saturday with a leg-related injury. Several plays later, Davis, the Scarlet Knights' All-American offensive tackle, had his afternoon terminate on the bench in crutches after also twisting his ankle.

Head coach Greg Schiano discussed their respective bumps and bruises, allaying concerns about potential surgery for Johnson, who required assistance while leaving the field.

"George is going to be okay," Schiano told reporters at the conclusion of Tuesday's practice. "He's on crutches right now, but it's not surgical."

"He's going to be okay too, but he's not going to play again this spring," Schiano said of Davis.

Despite their inability to compete on the gridiron or run at full strength, Davis and Johnson remain active off the field.

"They're already lifting," Schiano said. "That's where they were today, (working out) their upper bodies."

Entering his eight season at the helm, Schiano expects them to return by the summer.

"Hopefully, they'll be full-go when we start the summer program," Schiano said.

As spring practice comes to a close with this weekend's annual Scarlet-White game, Schiano also discussed players who have stood out in his eyes.

Davon Smart, a red-shirt junior, earned 18 tackles and one forced fumble in 13 games last season. The Hackensack native's progress and work ethic convinced Schiano to use him as a safety with the first unit in recent scrimmages.

"I think Davon Smart is one of the guys who's had a really good spring," Schiano said. "He's moving up the depth chart. When he got in there at the ones (as a safety), he did a great job."

Dennis Campbell has also made a strong effort to earn minutes in quarterback Mike Teel's high-flying offense. The fourth-year senior wide receiver spent time as the fourth option last year, while also returning kickoff and punts.

"Dennis doesn't surprise me because Dennis worked his tail off, all during bowl preparation and all during the winter program," Schiano said. "And I've seen Dennis play at a high level, we all have, but then he had a little slump. He's had an excellent spring."

Considering Rutgers' depth at the receiver position, Schiano maintains a variety of veteran weapons. Tiquan Underwood and Kenny Britt performed exceptionally in 2007, each taking in more than 1,000 yards in the air.

Adding the short yet speedy Tim Brown, who recently returned to the mix, gives Schiano several options.

"With the re-emergence of Dennis, you have four guys who have played in games that are comfortable playing in games. you have five guys (Julian Hayes) who have played in games, which is a nice thing coming in the spring," Schiano said.

For the offensive linemen, the grueling heavyweights who take a beating each game, Schiano considers the difficult nature of their unacknowledged value to the Scarlet Knights' continued success.

"It's pretty much a thankless job unless they're thanking each other or their running back and quarterback are thanking them," Schiano said.

Notes: After battling through foot problems, Kevin Haslam underwent an expected surgical ankle procedure on Monday.

"Kevin (Haslam) had a good spring," Schiano said. "Kevin had surgery on his ankle on Monday, but that was planned. We said we would get him to the last week of spring and then get it done. It was a lingering thing. He should be all ready to go by the summer. He toughed through it. We knew he needed it. He needed the work and he wanted to go. We just wanted to make sure he has that extra week of recovery, just in case."

Relatively Healthy: Other than Haslam, Johnson and Davis, Schiano did not report any significant injuries on each side of the roster. Phew.

Schiano on mixing and matching the left side of the offensive line: "I'm never okay with itIt's not as alarming in the spring as it is in the fall, but it's alarming."

Schiano on choosing teams for Saturday's spring game: "We should do them tomorrow, Thursday the latest."

Play of the Day: Playing with the second team, safety Glen Lee sacked reserve quarterback Chris Paul-Etienne with a jarring body-to-body collision. Back-up tight end Craig McGovern's tough catch in traffic placed second.

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