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Missouri football ready for first scrimmage

Friday, August 10, 2012 | 2:59 p.m. CDT; updated 2:02 p.m. CDT, Saturday, August 11, 2012
Missouri Tigers safeties David Johnson, left, and Kenronte Walker practice a drill during training camp Friday at Faurot Field.

COLUMBIA — Cloud cover and temperatures in the 60s and 70s made for a comfortable workout on the day before the Tigers' first scheduled scrimmage of training camp.

The Missouri football team had a light practice Friday morning at Faurot Field, wearing just helmets and shoulder pads. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel did not make the team do conditioning drills to give the players a break before the scrimmage.

Nine days into camp, senior safety Kenronte Walker said he was still not tired, or at least that he wouldn't show it.

"Of course you are going to be tired because of two-a-days, but you've got to fight through that. That's what it's all about," he said.

Walker said he and his teammates have been maintaining their bodies by sitting in a cold tub after practice, getting massages and getting good rest every night.

Heading into the season, Walker is trying to hold on to the starting job at strong safety. At both the strong safety and free safety positions, no player has established himself as the starter.

Pinkel has said throughout training camp that he is looking for players to separate themselves with strong performances at every position. There were not many opportunities to make an impression Friday, with players not in full pads, but Saturday's scrimmage should give players a chance to prove themselves.

While Pinkel said the coaching staff evaluates every player on the team after every practice, he said they will place a little more importance on player performances in the scrimmage because it is more like a real game than practice.

Walker, whose only three starts came at free safety at the end of last season, is currently listed as the starting strong safety. Sophomore Braylon Webb, who has just four career starts, is on the depth chart as the No. 1 free safety. Junior Matt White is listed as Webb's backup.

White, who has five career starts, is the only other safety on the team who has started any games for the Tigers, but sophomore Daniel Easterly and redshirt freshman Cortland Browning are also competing for a spot. Pinkel said the team usually keeps only four safeties on the team during the season. Despite the lack of experienced players there, Pinkel said the position is "strong."

Walker agrees, but he also said it's hard to tell who is leading the competition.

"Right now, everybody is making plays. It's going to be a big day for everybody," Walker said.

Webb is also looking forward to the scrimmage and hopes to show the coaches his ability.

"We've got to prove ourselves," Webb said. "You've got to be smart.  That's one thing you need. In all situations, it all boils down to your instincts and how smart you are, from judging routes to reading your guard and your center for your run pass keys and all that."

NOTES: Freshman tight end Sean Culkin is scheduled to have surgery on his broken left ring finger today. Senior offensive lineman Travis Ruth underwent surgery to repair his torn left triceps tendon Thursday.


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