One of the players 10th-ranked Arkansas can least afford to lose ended up leaving practice Monday with an injury.
Tenarius Wright left Monday's practice with what appeared to be a concussion or neck injury.
Middle linebacker Tenarius Wright, the leader of a thin linebacking corps, was carted off the field early in practice and carried away in a van for further examination.
The seriousness of the injury was not made public. However, Wright was walking around after he was hurt and was seen turning his head in different directions as he was being examined by the trainer.
The injury occurred a handful of plays into the inside run segment of practice and happened when Wright made contact with running back Knile Davis.
“I didn’t even know he was hurt until after practice,” Davis said. “Hopefully, it’s not severe. I didn’t hear him scream or anything, so hopefully it’s not severe.”
Pads pop, tempers flare
The Razorbacks worked out in full pads Monday for the first time in this fall camp, and things got a little heated, to say the least, as a fight broke out between offensive and defensive players late in practice.
Players from both sides rushed onto the field. It appeared that sophomore center/offensive guard Mitch Smothers and freshman defensive tackle Darius Philon were in it. Defensive end JaMichael Winston had to be pulled out of the scrum by a coach.
It took awhile to separate the players, but once things calmed down, Coach John L. Smith briefly stopped practice, called the team together and gave the Razorbacks an earful.
Mitch Smothers appeared to be involved in the heated exchange between offensive and defensive players.
Offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said that sort of thing is just part of the game and was no big deal.
“That happens every once in a while,” Petrino said. “Not too often, but a bunch of guys are fired up, flying around. Things happen.”
Offensive lineman Luke Charpentier said the problems between the players are immediately forgotten once practice ends.
“It’s just football,” Charpentier said. “First day with pads. Got hot. It got heated and had a little fight. But we’re a family and that stays on the field whatever happens it don’t go in the locker room.”
Running back Ronnie Wingo agreed.
“With all that type of stuff, it happens on the field and it stays on the field,” Wingo said. “We’re still a family when we get to the locker room and it’s all squashed.”
McKay making mark
True freshman wide receiver Mekale McKay appeared to have a very good day. He made two catches during a late team segment, including one play in which he took the ball away from defensive back Kaelon Kellybrew as they hit the ground.
When identifying freshmen who have been standing out, Petrino pointed to McKay as well as receivers Keon Hatcher and D’Arthur Cowan.
Petrino said McKay is “pretty special against press” coverage.
“Sometimes that separates who the young guys are who can play and can’t play,” Petrino said. “He’s got great feet. He can go up and catch the ball, and he’s looked good against press.”
Mitchell still standing out
Backup quarterback Brandon Mitchell continues to make plays as a slot receiver, and Petrino called him “one of our best receivers right now.”
As such, Mitchell is not getting as many repetitions at quarterback.
“He wants to do whatever he can to help the team,” Petrino said. “He still meets with (the quarterbacks) every day. He still knows what he’s doing. He goes through some individual with us. But the last few days his reps in practice have been at receiver in any period when we’re going against the defense.”
Wingo slimming down
Wingo is also continuing to see some individual and team work with the receivers.
Wingo said all the running required to play receiver has helped him rapidly drop some weight.
“I was kind of heavy before camp started,” he said. “Doing all that running and everything at receiver, I’ve lost some weight. I feel like it’s better for me doing all that running. So it’s good.
“I’m probably down to 228 (pounds). I was like 235 before camp started.”
First-team weakside linebacker Alonzo Highsmith (hamstring) was at practice but did not dress out. Terrell Williams worked with the first team in his place, and during a team segment, he intercepted a Tyler Wilson pass that was tipped behind the line of scrimmage.
Starting safety Eric Bennett, who has been limited in practice with a possible hamstring injury, took part in team drills early in practice, but did not take part in the late team segments. Alan Turner took his place on the first-team defense.
Quarterback Tyler Wilson’s numbers Monday: He was 6 of 7 in the blitz/play-action segment; 11 of 17 in the other team segments; and 14 of 19 in pass skeleton.
Petrino said Wilson has been playing great, but “probably missed a couple throws today, maybe the first throws he’s missed since spring ball, but just a couple.”
“That’s going to happen every once in a while, Petrino said. “I think sometimes you think he’s going to hit 500 throws in a row. He did miss a couple today, but he’s had a great camp so far, been playing real well, doing a great job of leading, understanding the offense.”
Four-star junior college cornerback Carroll Washington was at practice Monday. Washington, of Hartnell College in Salinas, Calif., is at Arkansas on an official visit that concludes Tuesday. Arkansas’ three commits from Fayetteville – four-star quarterback Austin Allen, three-star safety Alex Brignoni and three-star linebacker Brooks Ellis – were also at practice. … Scouts from the Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs and New York Giants were at practice. … In addition to Highsmith, there were five players on the 105-man roster who didn’t take part in practice – wide receiver Cowan, safety Houston Pruitt, kicker John Henson, tight end Brett Weir and offensive tackle Mitchell Loewen. There was a new offensive lineman at practice Monday wearing jersey No. 63. That player is not listed on the roster, and a member of the UA sports information department did not know his identity. It might have been Aurora Christian (Ill.) offensive lineman R.J. Morris, who was invited to walk on at Arkansas, but again, there have been no official announcements on the roster change.