August 7, 2007

Tigers get word on two injured starters

At about 10:10 on Tuesday morning, the Missouri Tigers held their collective breath. In fact, they probably still haven't exhaled.

Late in Tuesday's fourth practice of fall camp, Chase Daniel dropped back to pass during 11-on-11 drills. His pass to the left side of the field was tipped by a defensive end and floated toward Tony Temple. Temple, Sean Weatherspoon and Paul Simpson all went for the ball simultaneously. When Temple hit the turf, he reached for his right knee and writhed on the grass in pain.

"I was just jumping up, I wasn't trying to hit him or anything," Simpson said. "I was just trying to make a play on the ball, you know. It just happened that we hit legs."

"I kind of felt my knee, but it didn't hurt as bad as it looked like it hurt his."

Temple was helped off the field by trainer Rex Sharp and taken into the football facility on a cart. Gary Pinkel did not know the extent of the injury.

Temple was not the only Tiger starter to go down. Cornerback Hardy Ricks, who had been having one of the best camps on the team, left practice earlier in the day with what Pinkel believed was a dislocated shoulder. He said Ricks would have an MRI soon.

"He just dove for a ball," Pinkel said. "Things happen. You can say don't ever dive for a ball, but it's hard to be a good football player if you do that."

Ricks had impressed coaches, teammates and observers at practice with his improvement since the spring.

"You can tell he has a sense of urgency. He wants to be out there on the field, he wants to keep his spot and he wants to play a lot," said Darnell Terrell, the other starting cornerback. "I'm pretty sure he's more than tough enough to come back."

For now, the team is maintaining the most positive outlook possible.

"It's Tony, he'll be fine," said Daniel. "He'll be back out here tomorrow, maybe in a red pullover, but he'll be fine."

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