Brinkley's rehab ahead of schedule

Gamecock fans who attended Friday afternoon's spring practice got a pleasant surprise when they saw the familiar number 52 running around in a white jersey again. Jasper Brinkley, who missed most of last year after injuring his LCL against LSU, was back in action at USC's opening workout. Read inside as reports the latest on Brinkley's rehab and much more.

Most thought Jasper Brinkley would simply be watching practice in a yellow jersey on Friday, but that was not the case for the All-SEC linebacker. After relentlessly rehabbing his knee and ankle during the offseason, Brinkley was back on the field almost a mere six months to the day after the injury.

According to Brinkley, his rehab has gone extremely well so far.

"The knee is feeling good. You couldn't ask for it to be any better," Brinkley said. "I think I'm a little bit ahead (of schedule)."

Today's non-contact practice was not that different than the one-on-one drills Brinkley has to do as part of his rehab.

"(The rehab) was an everyday thing. This is just agility, (there's) no contact (or) stuff like that."

Brinkley, who is listed at 275 pounds on the pre-spring depth chart, says he is now concentrating on working out rather than just worrying about his knee.

"Now that I've started running and stuff I can focus on getting my body in shape. I've lost five pounds already so I'm at 270 and going to keep dropping. I'm just being mobile (and) active now."

Brinkley says his weight is nothing to worry about now because he actually played at 268 pounds last season. The senior linebacker's goal, however, is to get down into the 255-260 pound range. That should be doable at the rate he is going now.

Brinkley also gave an update on his twin brother, Casper Brinkley, who exhausted his eligibility last fall. Jasper will be playing without his brother beside him for the first time since he enrolled a semester before Casper in the spring of 2006.

"He (Casper) was out here today. He is doing real good. He had an interview with the Buffalo Bills Monday. That was real good for him."

Brinkley seemed more interested in talking about the guys playing around him and at his middle linebacker spot than himself. Melvin Ingram is a young linebacker that many have high hopes for going into the season, and Brinkley commented on the rising sophomore.

"(Ingram is) pretty big. He's a better athlete than I am. On the tests he did better than I did," Brinkley said. "He can do a lot of things. You've got to keep him somewhere on the field."

Brinkley also seemed excited about the prospects of playing alongside junior standout defensive end Eric Norwood who got his first look at outside linebacker today.

"I think it was a great move for the team. He's another guy that's got good size (and) good speed. "(He's a) playmaker. You've got to keep the guys like that on the field."

While Brinkley was running around doing drills today, he says he will sit out once the pads go on and the contact starts on Monday. As expected, Brinkley worked with the first string defense at linebacker alongside Norwood and Gerrod Sinclair.

The Gamecocks will hit the practice field again Saturday at 10 a.m. on the Bluff Rd. practice fields.

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