COLUMBIA — James Franklin's health has been in question since he tore his labrum in his throwing shoulder in the spring, but the junior quarterback said his right shoulder problems actually began before he played his first season as a starter last year.
"During the summer last year, I was throwing and one of the players hit my arm, and I kind of tweaked it. And ever since then, it wasn't the same. I don't know what the injury was exactly. It still bothered me some," Franklin said. "But now, being able to come back, I'm going to be excited because it has probably been almost over a year since my shoulder has been fully healthy."
The Missouri football team had its first practice of training camp Thursday at the fields next to the Missouri Athletic Training Complex. Franklin fully participated in the helmets-only practice and said he had no problems throwing. He said he has worked on his throwing form during the summer, and his work included throwing with a Nerf ball before he was able to throw with a regular football.
"So I think because of, like, the injury (last summer), I would do things to make it not hurt as much and my form would be terrible," Franklin said. "But coming out here and how good it's feeling and really emphasizing mechanics and getting all of those bad habits out of the way from last year, I think I have improved. It feels like I have improved. I really get to see once we watch film."
Franklin said he began throwing with a regular football about a month ago, and feels good about his arm. He said if there was a game tomorrow, he would play. But he and the team are still being cautious.
"(I) probably can't water ski or wakeboard or anything like that," he said.
Franklin said he needs to regain full stamina in his arm. He said he felt soreness after days when he threw hard, but says it has been three or four weeks since he last felt any shoulder discomfort.
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said his quarterback's ability to return so quickly impressed him.
"I kind of marvel at him," Pinkel said, "He's got a great attitude, and obviously he is genetically gifted."
James Franklin's father Willie Franklin played receiver for the Oklahoma football team in the early 1970s.
Pinkel also praised running back Henry Josey, who will likely miss this season after a devastating knee injury forced him to have multiple surgeries. Pinkel said no final decision has been made on whether or not Josey will play this season, but he wants to make sure the running back gets back to 100 percent before returning to the field.
Highly touted recruit Dorial Green-Beckham practiced for the first time with the Tigers. While reporters were not allowed to speak to the freshman, he certainly drew a lot of attention.
The top overall recruit, as ranked by Rivals, had a few mistakes in his first practice, but still made impressive catches. In one drill where receivers caught passes on slant patterns then sprinted full speed with the ball, coaches made Green-Beckham redo the drill because he didn't run hard enough. He later dropped a deep ball during 11-on-11 drills.
Franklin said he expects Green-Beckham to settle in and improve quickly.
"His first couple days here in the summer, he was a little bit overwhelmed so to speak," Franklin said. "And after, he kinda adjusted really well. It was almost like he was a veteran. He made some really good plays."
The quarterback also said he thinks Green-Beckham's presence will motivate the rest of the receiving corps.
"He is really good," Franklin said, "And they don't want their spots taken, so they are gonna work harder to maintain their spot."
Pinkel announced the team captains via Twitter on Thursday. The captains are receiver T.J. Moe, left tackle Elvis Fisher, and linebackers Zaviar Gooden and Will Ebner.
Fisher, a sixth-year senior, was present at practice after some uncertainty. The left tackle who missed all of last season to injury released a video on Twitter earlier this week threatening to hold out if several demands, including new soap for the locker room and a personal Segway, were not met.
How many of his demands were met?
"Zero. The coaches just told me to get back on the practice field and shut up," Fisher laughed.