Rainey steps closer to playing


Florida's Chris Rainey runs upfield during the first half against Miami (Ohio) at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium Saturday, September 4, 2010.

Doug Finger/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 at 12:19 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 at 3:57 p.m.

Florida wide receiver/running back Chris Rainey is on target to play in Saturday's game against Georgia, UF coach Urban Meyer said Wednesday.

"As of now, he's done everything he's supposed to do," Meyer said on the SEC's weekly teleconference. "(Thursday) is the deadline I set with him and myself. I'll just do a thorough check again tomorrow of everything we've asked him to do."

Rainey was arrested Sept. 14 for aggravated stalking and suspended indefinitely from the team. He accepted a deferred prosecution agreement with the State Attorney's Office on Sept. 27.

Rainey returned to the team Oct. 10, but Meyer said Rainey still had to meet certain conditions before he would be cleared to play.

It appears Rainey has done everything he's been asked to do so far and is now in a position to play in Saturday's game, possibly at running back, slot receiver and in the return game, if he continues on his current path in practice and off the field.

"(A second chance) is an opportunity for a young man to clear his name and get himself right, like we've had a bunch of guys around here do, and guys do all over the place," Meyer said. "I'm just going to keep a pretty tight rein on Chris Rainey. It had never been an issue before. It certainly better never be again."

Rainey was Florida's most potent playmaker throughout preseason camp and was being counted on to produce big plays at slot receiver, tailback and possibly even as a wildcat quarterback. With Rainey out for five games and speedy tailback Jeff Demps severely limited by a sprained foot the past three games, the Gators have failed to make any big offensive plays like they have consistently done in the past under Meyer.

With Rainey back at practice and Demps getting closer to 100 percent, Meyer said he's seeing some of the big-play potential back in the offense in practice this week.

"It looks faster with these guys, with Demps, Rainey and Gilly (tailback Mike Gillislee) out there," Meyer said. "We'll see. I made it very clear five years ago, we always believe in speed.

"You take that out of the offense, out of any offense, and it struggles. Right now, you see the best offenses in the country are loaded up with big hits. Defenses are too talented and two well-schemed to be methodical (on offense). We've had some 10- and 15-play drives where we didn't score.

"We led the SEC in offense, I think three or four years in a row. It was a guy breaking a tackle, a guy making a play and a guy out-running the defense. That's what we've got to get back to."

Earlier in the week, senior center Mike Pouncey said Rainey is the best player on the UF football team.

He's certainly one of the fastest, and he's shown in the past, he can be a home-run hitter in the offense.

Rainey had a 75-yard touchdown run in 2008 and a 76-yard run last season.

He moved from tailback to slot receiver in preparation for last January's Sugar Bowl and remained at the Percy Harvin position through the spring and the start of the season. In the Harvin position, he will line up in three different positions — slot receiver, tailback and wildcat quarterback.

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