Smith, Others Return From Injuries

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino is trying to mold the Razorbacks into a tougher team this spring.

Running back Michael Smith wants to prove he's one of the toughest players on the roster.

So it's no surprise Smith was frustrated by the hip pointer that sidelined him for all but one play of last Friday's scrimmage. Or that four days later, he was practicing through the pain.

"I felt like I let (Petrino) down on Friday when we scrimmaged," Smith said Tuesday. "I knew it was going to hurt pretty bad. But I just said I was going to go. And if I started, I was going to finish it."

Smith was one of a handful of players back on the field after missing the spring's second scrimmage with nagging pains. In addition, linebacker Elston Forte, running back Chip Gregory and receivers London Crawford and Crosby Tuck returned.

Smith, Arkansas' first-team running back, suffered his injury during a pass skeleton drill just before the scrimmage began. He tried to participate, but said it was impossible. He didn't like sitting, though.

"I'm out here to play football," said Smith, who was hobbling after practice. "As long as I can run, I want to be out here."

Forte wanted to scrimmage, too, but was given the day off after suffering a slight concussion on the first day of contact drills. He said the time off helped him get over constant headaches and nausea.

"Nobody likes being on the sidelines," Forte said after returning Tuesday. "It's a good feeling to be back out there."

But there were a few players that couldn't practice. Quarterback Ryan Mallett (thumb) and cornerback Jerell Norton (hamstring) were sidelined and neither is expected to return this spring.

Petrino said it's unfortunate when anyone gets hurt. But he said some of the injured players must learn how to practice through the bumps and bruises. Petrino didn't mention any specific players.

"Some guys need to understand the difference between injury and just being a little bit nicked up," he said. "But certainly it gives the guy behind them an opportunity to take their spot."



Tight End Attack

Two weeks of practices have revealed at least one thing: Tight end could be one of the team's most productive positions.

D.J. Williams and Andrew Davie have impressed. The pair caught 12 passes for 224 yards and 2 touchdowns in Friday's scrimmage.

"You're starting to see that that's a pretty good personnel group for us with both of them in the game," Petrino said. "They're both very versatile and can play some fullback, some H-back, tight end."



Enjoy This

The length of Arkansas' scrimmage may be blamed on the players.

Petrino said he considered shortening the scrimmage, which lasted at least 150 plays, until he looked at the players' faces on the field.

"There were certain times I probably would have stopped the scrimmage a little bit earlier," Petrino said. "But I'd look over and I could see the players wondering, ‘Are we done yet?' So we'd keep going a little bit longer so they can learn to enjoy it."



Sharpen Up

Arkansas may have had three days off, but Petrino said he wasn't pleased with the intensity of Tuesday's practice.

"Not sharp enough," Petrino said. "We need to learn when we have three days off to come back. It took us probably half the practice to get going at the tempo and speed we need to work at. They stayed with it and kept working."

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