COLUMBIA — When E.J. Gaines felt pain shoot through his leg a week ago, his mind couldnt stop racing. A receiver had stepped on his foot while he was trying to jump, and Gaines foot stayed in place while his body continued to move forward.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
I was really scared, said Gaines, a senior cornerback who graduated from Fort Osage. It was painful when it happened, and like I said, Ive never been injured before, so that really scared me.
So yes, Gaines the Tigers lone selection to the medias preseason All-Southeastern Conference team clearly felt the same relief the coaching staff did when he was told he just had a sprained patella tendon in his left knee. Trainer Rex Sharp told him it was treatable, and he would be out about a week.
Sure enough, there he was Tuesday, practicing albeit in a red pullover, which indicated he was limited. Gaines told Missouri coach Gary Pinkel after practice that he was about 70 percent.
I did a little seven-on-seven. I didnt do much cutting or anything like that or 11 or 11, Gaines said. But just getting out here in full pads feels good.
When asked if Gaines would be ready for Thursdays scrimmage the Tigers last of the preseason Pinkel said he would let Sharp make that decision.
I dont think its something that will hang around all season, Gaines said. I definitely hope its not.
That said, he wont be rushing himself back before hes ready.
Theyre telling me to take it slow and do what I can, Gaines said. I feel good, a lot better than last week.
Gaines said his teammates have been poking fun at him for missing practice.
They give me crap every now and again about being on vacation, thats what they call it, Gaines said with a laugh. They told me Im on a cruise right now, a seven-day cruise.
However, theres little doubt Gaines presence has been missed.
That kind of high-level player, youre going to miss him, Pinkel said. We want to get him back, obviously. Thats the importance of staying healthy. Very few teams can lose an all-conference player and replace him with an all-conference player. Its a difficult deal. I dont care where youre at.
Missouri will practice at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday before holding its third and final scrimmage of the preseason at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
Well play all the ones the first quarter in total game conditions, Pinkel said. Then well have goals for how many plays we want for each player. Theres a lot of positions we have to make decisions on.
Pinkel said the staff will soon make decisions on freshmen who will redshirt. Most of the class figures to do so, though Pinkel has repeatedly praised tight end Jason Reese, defensive tackle Josh Augusta and cornerback Aarion Penton.
These are things weve talked about over and over, but well come to a point on Thursday where weve got to make decisions, Pinkel said.
Junior running back Greg White shed his red non-contact jersey and participated in practice. Sophomore receiver Wesley Leftwich wore a red non-contact jersey.
To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/TerezPaylor.