FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas' starting tight end, starting left offensive guard and a reserve wide receiver are headed for arthroscopic knee surgery, Arkansas Coach Chad Morris said after the Hogs practiced Wednesday in shorts.
Senior tight end Cheyenne "C.J." O'Grady of Fayetteville, senior left guard Austin Capps of Star City and sophomore receiver Koilan Jackson of Little Rock all apparently felt the effects of injuries during Tuesday's practice in pads.
Unless the diagnostic part of their surgery indicates otherwise, Morris believes O'Grady and Capps should return as the Razorbacks open their season Aug. 31 hosting Portland State at Reynolds Razorback Stadium, with Jackson due back a week or so later.
"C.J. should be back in about two weeks we’re anticipating," Morris said. "He had just a knee sprain. Austin Capps same thing. Something that had been bothering him a little bit. He should be back by the first game. Koilan Jackson may be three and a half weeks or so, it’s a recurring injury, from the same knee. He’ll be fine. Just going in and cleaning a few things up."
Arkansas' left side of the offensive line appeared especially depleted Wednesday with starting senior left tackle Colton Jackson of Conway resting an injured foot.
"We just pulled him back today" Morris said. "And Britto Tutt (the often injured senior defensive back) same thing."
Freshman nickel back Greg Brooks (hyperextended thumb) worked in a green (no contact) jersey Wednesday while freshman tight end Hudson Henry returned from clearing concussion protocol and defensive tackle Nick Fulwider, recently limited by injuries, practiced full speed.
The absences of Colton Jackson and Capps prompted offensive line coach Dustin Fry first team to work Kirby Adcock at left guard and junior college transfer Myron Cunningham at left tackle Wednesday.
Continuing at their first-team offensive line spots are junior center Ty Clary, sophomore right guard Shane Clenin and sophomore right tackle Dalton Wagner.
O'Grady, 30 catches for 400 yards last season but briefly demoted to third team this August as Morris challenged him to increase concentration, had run first-team in the recent closed practices Morris said.
With O'Grady out, Henry was a welcome addition to tight end corps who, for now, starts with fourth-year junior Grayson Gunter and senior second-year transfer Chase Harrell, formerly a wide receiver at Kansas and a wide receiver at Arkansas last season.
"It was good to have Hudson Henry out there in full go today," Morris said. "Chase Harrell continues to impress us at the tight end position. Grayson Gunter’s having a really good camp as well and Blake Kern (a walk-on but considered the best blocker among Arkansas' tight ends). Those are some guys that are really stepping up."
Gunter would have the starting nod for now, Morris said, if O'Grady isn't full go against Portland State.
Running back T.J. Hammonds remains under concussion protocol but is expected back soon.
A head coach's inevitable split personality regarding his offense vs. defense in practices and scrimmages manifests in his offensive staff's and defensive staff's conflicting goals.
The offense strives for no turnovers, which they achieved earlier this week to win the belt awarded by Morris to the best faring.
Meanwhile defensive coordinator John "Chief" Chavis' crew aspires for at least three turnovers per practice.
Morris said the defense got three Wednesday at the expense of quarterbacks Ben Hicks, Nick Starkel and John Stephen Jones, and thus claimed Wednesday's belt.
Morris said he's set for a more physical practice today, then tapering Friday for Saturday's scrimmage.
Scrimmages Saturday and next Wednesday mark the hardest practices before game-week and likely will do much to determine the as yet unannounced starting quarterback vs. Portland State.
"We've got two really good opportunities ahead of us and we've got some live situations that we'll get into," Morris said. "We'll end up announcing it (starting quarterback) at some point."
Trey Knox, the December 2018 high school graduate wowing the coaches last spring after his UA enrollment, celebrated his birthday in a big way Wednesday, Morris said.
"He had an unbelievable day today," Morris said citing the last two days as Knox's best this August. "He hasn’t been as consistent as I wanted him to be during camp. We’ve challenged him a little bit, but that comes with being a freshman."
Another true freshman receiver, T.Q. Jackson, also merited Morris' post practice praise.