Missouri football was on the natural grass of the Kadlec Fields for the 18th day of its fall camp, the last practice session open to media before the team has its third and final scrimmage on Thursday and begins preparation for its season opener against Southeastern Louisiana on Monday.
“We’re kind of where we want to be,” coach Gary Pinkel said, 17 days away before Georgia travels to Columbia and the Tigers begin life in the Southeastern Conference. “We’ve had a good camp, we had a real good practice today. We’ve had real good practices with this football team.”
Here were some notes from the day:
Leftwich to undergo surgery
The injury that sidelined junior offensive tackle Justin Britt for much of the summer has found its next victim.
Redshirt freshman receiver Wesley Leftwich is expected to miss four to five weeks after he receives surgery on his foot for a Jones fracture on Thursday. The Columbia native who starred at Hickman High School and is featured on the Tigers’ 2012 season schedule poster was listed as the team’s third option at the X-spot on the depth chart entering camp.
“It’s almost a complete parallel to Justin Britt’s,” Pinkel said. “Good news is you can get back in a couple weeks. It’s tough because all that battle, all that competition, all that stuff goes on … (But) if you’re going to get a broken foot, that’s about the best we can get if you want to look at it that way.”
Britt had been sidelined from the first day of camp on Aug. 2 after receiving surgery a couple weeks beforehand. He made his full-practice return on Aug. 18.
Since the last scrimmage, where around 20 sat out in red pullovers or jerseys (the most Pinkel has had in a fall scrimmage, he said), players have slowly returned to action.
For the first time since spraining his foot a week ago, sophomore Jimmie Hunt was back with the offense in a black jersey. He was targeted in scrimmages toward the end of practice with the second unit.
Players in red included: receiver L’Damien Washington, tight end Sean Culkin, linebacker Will Ebner, cornerback Kip Edwards and defensive tackles Lucas Vincent and Matt Hoch.
Vincent took part in limited drills with the line. He has been riddled by injuries throughout camp, having been sidelined early on while recovering from a torn pectoral muscle before making his return and suffering an ankle sprain.
Though he wasn’t taking passes Culkin, the freshman that has stood out over the summer before breaking a finger, was seen running full speed through routes during some drills.
After a season of first-year players not seeing one snap, it’s been freshmen under the spotlight at camp. After practice Thursday, Pinkel was asked if he’s ever had this many newcomers vying for regular season playtime.
“We’ve had a couple years,” he said. “A few years ago it was more for need; we really had some areas of depth that were really, really shallow. This more applies to anybody now that's in the picture, knocking on that door (and it’s) because they’re playing at a real high level.”
Dorial Green-Beckham, the consensus No. 1 recruit from the 2012 class, has been thriving in camp since his move to the Y-position, which has traditionally been filled by tight ends. On Wednesday during a scrimmage, Green-Beckham showed particular burst after the catch on two different occasions. In the last team scrimmage, he led the team with six catches for 68 yards.
Another player that’s shined has been offensive guard Evan Boehm, a four-star recruit out of Lee’s Summit West. He’s seen plenty of reps with the first unit throughout the summer and coaches have said he could play right away because of his size and savvy.
Culkin, who considered basketball his top priority in high school before his junior year, is another that coaches have spoken highly of. After recovering his finger, he can also be expected to see the field come September.
Running back Russell Hansbrough has made a quick impression on coaches as well, leapfrogging to the third spot on the depth chart behind senior Kendial Lawrence and sophomore Marcus Murphy just days after returning to full participation in practice from an injury.
The kick is up
The starting kicker job remains up for grabs between senior Trey Barrow and redshirt freshman Andrew Baggett.
Bagett was the leader according to the depth chart at the opening of camp, but Barrow has since passed him. But both were seen splitting snaps on Thursday, missing and making an equal amount from about 35 yards out near the ned of the session.
At the team's last scrimmage, Baggett hit three of his seven field goals while Barrow was true on all six of his tries. Thursday's scrimmage will be yet another audition for the two.