February 18, 2009

Hating to sit

His left wrist is healing nicely, but running back Richard Samuel said Wednesday that he's not too keen on having to miss spring drills.

With Knowshon Moreno moving onto the NFL, the opportunity was ripe for Samuel to compete for the starting tailback job with fellow returnees Caleb King, Carlton Thomas and Dontavius Jackson. That is, until the rising sophomore was forced to undergo surgery in January to repair some ligament damage.

"It's (spring) is going to be killing me because I'm a guy who likes to be out there," said Samuel, who just turned 18. "It's bad because I was looking forward to getting ready and get in that battle for the starting running back position."

Running backs coach Bryan McClendon can empathize with Samuel, who he went to see at St. Mary's hospital when the Cartersville native came out of surgery.

"I had just gone to make sure he was OK. He was still groggy, still pretty much out of it but he told me 'Coach, I've got to go work out,'" McClendon said. "I just told him 'Richard, you might want to at least take the day off and get better."

Unfortunately, that won't help Samuel this spring.

With Samuel out and Jackson expected to miss some, if not all of spring drills, King, Thomas and walk-on Kalvin Daniels will get most of the snaps.

"Definitely, those guys are going to have the opportunity to show what they can do," McClendon said. "Those guys will be getting a bunch of reps, but we we'll wait to those other guys (Samuel and Jackson) get healthy so they can show what they can do. Competition brings out the best in everybody. They'll get their shot."

In other words, it won't be until sometime in August that McClendon announces some sort of pecking order.

But there's a reason for that. McClendon doesn't want either Samuel or Jackson feeling that they have to rush back from their respective injuries in order to make a quick impression.

"We want these guys to get healthy. There's no need to rush back because that would put us behind the eight-ball and in the long run not give themselves a chance by trying to come back hurt," McClendon said. "Their biggest focus right now should be making sure they get healthy. We need to keep everybody healthy."

According to Samuel, although he's not able to participate in mat drills, he does hope to perhaps be able to participate in some of the running stations this weekend.

"Right now I'm with the rest of the injured guys walking steps and doing core work," he said.

That's just fine with McClendon.

Although he did not completely rule out Samuel seeing some kind of practice time in the spring, he isn't counting on it.

"We'll see," McClendon said. "The biggest thing would be if he had to do a drill and wind up falling on the wrist to brace himself. We don't need that. Again, his main focus is to get healthy, just like it is with everybody else."

If not, Samuel said he has a plan.

"My sense is that I won't be able to do anything," he said. "But if not, I'll just take advantage of my summer workouts, study the playbook, work hard and be ready to take it into preseason."

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