Longhorns' speedster Sweed expects to play opener
All of it was to show that Sweed's sprained left wrist -- still wrapped in a bandage for support -- is healed enough for the senior wide receiver to play Saturday in No. 4 Texas' season opener against Arkansas State.
"I'm ready," Sweed said Monday. "I feel fine."
That's good news for the Longhorns, who have seen their deep and talented pool of receivers thinned by preseason injuries.
Sweed sprained his wrist, senior Billy Pittman is out for the first game with a shoulder injury and Jordan Shipley is doubtful with a tender hamstring. The trio combined for 96 catches and 20 touchdowns last season. Sweed caught 46 passes for 801 yards and with a school record 12 TDs last season, he was one of the nation's best deep threats.
Brown called Sweed "probable" for the game and Sweed was willing to accept any term the coach wanted to use, even if it wasn't quite as strong as Sweed would have wanted. But there was little doubt Sweed plans to be on the field.
"C'mon man, I'm a competitor," he said, adding that the injury may have even made him a better player. He spent a lot of time practicing catching balls with one hand.
"It's going to be a new addition," Sweed said.
Sweed is a key component to the Longhorns' offense, a muscular 6-foot-5, 220-pound mismatch for most defensive backs. He averaged 34.8 yards per touchdown catch last season and opted to return for his last season rather than enter the NFL draft.
Sweed injured the wrist in a fall during a scrimmage, then had to fight off rumors he broke bones and might be out for the season. He's heard so much speculation and been asked so many questions that Brown came into the room Monday and teasingly called him "Dr. Sweed."
"It's something that got blown way out of proportion," Sweed said.
Speculation was high because an injury to Sweed was potentially a big blow to a receiving corps that has taken more than its share of bumps and bruises.
With Pittman sidelined, Texas loses a speed receiver. Shipley, whose career has been dogged by injuries since coming out of high school, has developed into a solid player when he's on the field.
But if any position could take the hits, this was it. Texas has enough talent on wide receiver to go two or three deep at each position and the injuries helped accelerate the development of talented freshmen James Kirkendoll and Brandon Collins. Those two were listed as the top backups to senior flanker Nate Jones.
The freshmen got more reps in practice, which meant more time catching passes from quarterback Colt McCoy, who tied an NCAA freshman record last season with 29 TD passes.
"It was kind of a blessing," McCoy said. "It let me know how they run their routes and how good their hands are. They're talented."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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