COLUMBIA — Gary Pinkel’s injury report is getting shorter each week.
Even though Monday’s list consisted of only two names, it could have been the most important one thus far for the Missouri football coach. A hip pointer and a broken leg might not be the most serious problems the Tigers have faced in 2010. However, the players who suffered those injuries, starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert and defensive end Aldon Smith, have a big impact on the team..
It's likely former MU receiver Danario Alexander will join the Rams' active squad soon. For more go to the Missourian sports blog.
Pinkel said Gabbert, despite his hip pointer, will probably play against Texas A&M on Saturday in College Station, Texas. But Pinkel also said Smith will most likely miss his third consecutive game after breaking a non-weight bearing bone in his right leg. Those are merely Pinkel’s predictions though, and each player’s performance this week will reveal more about his situation.
“He’s (Smith) doing really great in his recovery and they’re going to try to get him running a little bit this week,” said Pinkel, who is waiting for word from the team trainers about his top defensive end’s progress.
Gabbert, however, will be doing a lot more than running. Despite the injury he suffered in Saturday's game against Colorado, the quarterback will be returning to full practice Tuesday.
“It’s good to go,” Gabbert said on Monday. “I’ll be out there tomorrow practicing 110 percent.”
The Tigers have seen their share of injuries so far this season. Seven players on the current depth chart have missed time because of an injury, and Pinkel has had to worry about second-string players stepping up into starting roles. Despite Gabbert and Smith being two of the team’s most talented players, Pinkel does not seem worried about replacing them.
“I think our depth might be a little bit better, but we’ve got to watch ourselves,” Pinkel said.
Defensive ends Brad Madison, Jacquies Smith, Marcus Malbrough and Michael Sam have all played well in Smith’s absence and contributed to a strong Missouri defense. Although Pinkel said it’s unlikely that backup quarterback James Franklin will start in Gabbert’s place on Saturday, he thinks the freshman is prepared to lead the offense.
“We’re going in right now like we always do,” Pinkel said. “Blaine’s going to be the starter, and until that changes, that’s what we’ll do.”
Unlike Smith’s injury, which has required extensive rehabilitation, Gabbert’s hip pointer does not require him to work extensively with the training staff before returning to the field. Pinkel said that it’s up to Gabbert to determine how he feels and if he’s ready to play.
“It’s pain tolerance … He’s got to be honest with us and tell us how he feels,” Pinkel said.
Gabbert said the injury, which he called a freak accident, won’t be a problem on Saturday. He said there are no excuses — he’s going to take the field against the Aggies and deliver the performance his team expects.
“I’ll never use an injury as a scapegoat,” Gabbert said.