UF's Jenkins expected to play vs. LSU
Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 11:48 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 12:54 p.m.
Florida linebacker Jelani Jenkins is expected to be cleared to play in Saturday’s game against LSU, UF coach Will Muschamp said Wednesday.
“Jelani Jenkins should be able to play,” Muschamp said on the SEC coaches’ teleconference. “He should be cleared. After looking at him the last two days in non-contact (drills), he’ll be able to go. How much depends on how much he progresses between now and Saturday.”
Jenkins missed the Tennessee and Kentucky games after fracturing his right thumb in the first half of the Texas A&M game. Jenkins had the pin removed from his thumb last week and returned to practice Monday in a non-contact role.
Jenkins will practice and play with a cast on his hand. Muschamp said he does not expect the outside linebacker to be limited in what he does.
“He’ll be able to play in all situations. He’s not limited right now,” Muschamp said. “If he can play, he can play. That means on first down or third down. As we move forward, that’s how we see it.”
Also on the injury front, two players who missed the UK game — fullback Trey Burton (back spasms) and defensive end Dominique Easley (knee) — will play Saturday, Muschamp said. Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, who dinged his shoulder in the UK game, also is 100 percent, Muschamp added.
Cornerback Cody Riggs (fractured foot) and offensive tackle Matt Patchan (strained pectoral muscle) will miss Saturday’s game. Muschamp said he is hopeful Patchan will return next week. He has yet to play this season due to his injury.
Jenkins’ return could be a big boost for the defense Saturday. The redshirt junior is one of the Gators’ most experienced defenders and a team leader.
Jenkins and senior middle linebacker Jon Bostic have been playing side-by-side for the past two-plus seasons. Bostic said he’s glad Jenkins is back.
“That helps out pretty much in every way,” Bostic said. “He’s one of the guys I’ve played next to since I’ve been here. We have that chemistry. Getting the calls out, sometimes in the past couple weeks I’ve been making sure the linebackers have been on their things.
“Now, with him coming back, we can kind of split the defense up where I’m going with the defensive line, he’s going with the secondary making sure everybody’s on the same page.”
While Jenkins was out, sophomore Michael Taylor and true freshman Antonio Morrison shared playing time at weakside linebacker and played well, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said.
But Jenkins brings other dimensions to the defense, Quinn said.
“Jelani is going to add a lot of value for us,” Quinn said. “One, from an experience standpoint. Two, from a guy who can match up (one-on-one in pass coverage) and he’s a good blitzer. We’re excited to have him back.”