Injury Report: Pittman assesses return of Gerald, Pool, more
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FAYETTEVILLE — For the first time in several weeks, Arkansas had most of its weapons available heading into Saturday’s game at Texas A&M.
Even though it ended with a 42-31 loss to the Aggies, the Razorbacks proved what head coach Sam Pittman had told the media coming out of the open week: They were as healthy as they’ve been since Week 1.
The biggest question mark going into the game was whether or not defensive end Dorian Gerald would be ready to play. Pittman said the senior would travel and go through warmups, but be a game-time decision.
Sure enough, he returned from the ankle injury suffered in the opener and played 12 defensive snaps, making one solo tackle for the Razorbacks. Talking to him Sunday, Pittman said Gerald was glad he played, even if it was a limited number of reps.
“I'm not going to tell you that I felt like he was 100 percent ready to play, but when are you in Game 5?” Pittman said. “I’m glad that he was glad that he played because I think that it gave him some confidence, and I think it'll help for this week.”
Pittman added that they’ll continue to monitor Gerald throughout the week at practice, but he sounded confident that he'll keep getting healthier and see his playing time increase.
Two other Arkansas defenders were healthy enough to return to the starting lineup and play a significant number of snaps.
After missing the last two games with an upper-body injury, Montaric Brown started at cornerback and finished with three tackles. According to Pro Football Focus, he played all 66 defensive snaps.
Joining him in the group of players who never came off the field on defense was linebacker Bumper Pool, who missed the Ole Miss game with broken ribs.
Despite being limited in practice, the junior turned in one of his better games of the season. He had 14 tackles, including three for a loss, and earned a season-high 68.6 grade from Pro Football Focus.
“We've got to get him a little deeper in coverages at times,” Pittman said. “We bit a little bit up on some play actions and things of that nature, but he came out of the game well. I was glad to have him back. He's a good football player and a great kid. We need guys like that on our football team.”
Offensively, getting an extra week off seemed to do wonders for running back Rakeem Boyd.
After suffering an ankle injury early in the win at Mississippi State and missing the Auburn game, the preseason All-SEC selection did not appear to be fully healthy against Ole Miss, when he ran for just 39 yards on 14 carries.
It was a different story against the Aggies on Saturday, as Boyd piled up 100 yards on 18 carries. The performance was an encouraging sign for Pittman.
“I think Rakeem is just going to get better and better each week,” Pittman said. “He knows he can make more people miss in open space and I think he's going to concentrate on some of that and get better. I loved his attitude and how hard he ran, and I think he'll even get better now that I believe he's healthy.”
Pittman added that freshman Myles Slusher - who hadn’t played since suffering an ankle injury against Mississippi State - was also questionable heading into Saturday, but ended up filling in at safety when Jalen Catalon was disqualified for targeting.
Fellow defensive backs Micahh Smith and Malik Chavis did not dress out for the Ole Miss game because of undisclosed injuries, as well, but made the trip and played Saturday at Texas A&M.