Pittman, Kindle, Melton Back For Rice

WR Bill Pittman, SLB Sergio Kindle and DE Henry Melton are expected to play in Saturday's game against Rice, following three-game suspensions, Texas head coach Mack Brown announced Monday. But how about the status of SE Limas Sweed, TE Jermichael Finley and RT Adam Ulatoski?

Limas Sweed (ankle) and Jermichael Finley (bruised shoulder) are both listed atop the depth chart released Monday, ordinarily a good indicator that a player is at least 'probable' for the upcoming contest. Adam Ulatoski (elbow) is listed as a co-starter alongside multi-tasker Chris Hall. Finley's bench time at Central Florida was considered strictly a precautionary measure and the sophomore should be available for Saturday's game, insiders say. Finley is certainly the most probable of the three injured starters, yet there is an air of cautious optimism regarding some of the walking wounded.

"Between Sunday and Tuesday," Brown said, "there is a lot of time for improvement with injuries."

Backup QB Sherrod Harris' status for Saturday's game remains 'uncertain' according to another source close to the situation while DE Brian Orakpo's return is "extremely doubtful. I wouldn't look for him until after conference play begins."

The good news for Texas' wide receiving corps is that, in addition to FL Jordan Shipley's return (hamstring) last Saturday, Pittman is back following his suspension for infringement of NCAA amateurism rules. According to Pittman, he drove a friend's car for the duration of last summer, resulting in an improper benefit. Pittman and Shipley's return should significantly enhance Texas' vertical passing game; the team has featured a steady diet of underneath routes against two- and three-deep zones the past couple of weeks. Pittman's 21 starts trails only Sweed, who has notched 36 career starts.

"Billy will be a welcomed addition back," Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis said, "because you now have a veteran with a fresh set of legs. That will allow us to move some things around."

Davis said Monday that he expects his six-man rotation to be Sweed, Pittman, Shipley, Quan Cosby, Nate Jones and the final slot going to freshman Brandon Collins.

Both Kindle and Melton were suspended three games following separate DWI incidents last summer. Each continued to work with scout teams since Texas coach Mack Brown announced their suspensions, the toughest he has ever levied for a similar infraction, during the start of August camp.

"Sergio gives us a presence off the edge," Defensive Coordinator Duane Akina said. "He's got a gift as a blitzer off the edge. He's got a big body and can really run. He's got a real physical presence, yet he's young in terms of games-played. Expectations are really high for him in a lot of different arenas. We're going to give him a chance to play his way into what we're all hoping."

The consensus prep All-American was considered the defensive jewel of the 2006 recruiting class that also included Five-Star Kilgore product Eddie Jones. Melton, of course, auditioned for two seasons at RB before coaches moved him exclusively to DE late last year. Melton logged a couple of defensive series at Texas Tech last October and was at one time projected as a DE at the professional level.

The three returnees will quickly re-acclimate themselves to game-day action, Brown believes.

"Billy, Sergio and Henry have really practiced hard the past three weeks," Brown said. "We've worked them enough, and we worked them more last week in preparation for this week. They've done everything right. They've done everything we've asked them to. They've had the harshest penalties for what they did than anybody in the country. They've more than paid their time. Thank goodness we did not lose a game while I made a decision to suspend kids that affect your team."

The Horns return to practice Tuesday. The 90th renewal of the Texas-Rice series is set for a 6 p.m. (CDT) kickoff in a Fox Sports Net national telecast.

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