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Longhorns' speedster Sweed expects to play opener

AUSTIN, Texas -- Limas Sweed laughed and clapped his hands.
He even high-fived Texas coach Mack Brown.

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."