University of Missouri

James Franklin could return to top of Missouri’s depth chart soon

Two weeks ago, ESPN reported that Missouri quarterback James Franklin was finished for the season. But he might return as soon as Saturday when No. 10 Missouri tussles with Tennessee at 6 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.

Tigers coach Gary Pinkel said Monday during his weekly news conference that Franklin, one of four permanent senior captains, had resumed throwing.

Franklin has been sidelined since suffering a sprained shoulder during the fourth quarter Oct. 12 in a win at Georgia. He was expected to miss three to five weeks but has missed only two games — a win against Florida and a loss to South Carolina — so far.

Additionally, senior cornerback E.J. Gaines came off the injury report after missing the last two games, but junior running back Henry Josey (concussion) was added to it.

Officially, Franklin, who has completed 132 of 195 passes for 1,577 yards with 14 touchdowns and three interceptions this season, is questionable. He’s listed third on the team’s depth chart behind redshirt freshman Maty Mauk and true freshman Eddie Printz.

“We had a practice (Sunday),” Pinkel said. “(Franklin) threw the ball and did some good things in that. Is he ready yet? We don’t know at all, but when he feels ready is when he’ll play. And he’ll move to the starting position when that happens.”

Pinkel flew to Seattle on Sunday to attend a memorial service for the late Don James, who coached Pinkel at Kent State and later hired him as an assistant coach at Washington, so he didn’t see Franklin in action firsthand.

But Franklin’s teammates and other coaches did, giving glowing reviews.

“James looked great to me,” senior wide receiver L’Damian Washington said.

Of course, Washington wouldn’t tip the Tigers’ hand about Franklin’s availability against the Volunteers, 4-4.

“He’s a competitor, so we’ll see,” Washington said with a smile.

Quarterbacks coach Andy Hill was similarly noncommittal.

“I really don’t know,” he said. “It’s going to be what happens in the next couple days in practice.”

Still, Hill admitted that Sunday’s practice was encouraging.

“I was not, uh, hurt by what he did yesterday,” Hill said.

Meanwhile, Gaines, a Fort Osage graduate, reported no lingering issues with the strained right quad, which has sidelined him since the second quarter at Georgia.

Even after missing 2 1/2 games, Gaines remained tied for fourth on the Tigers with 34 tackles and is tied for the team lead with three interceptions.

However, Missouri’s running-back depth took a hit when Josey suffered a concussion late in the loss to South Carolina, leaving him questionable for the Tennessee game.

Josey, who is ninth in the Southeastern Conference in rushing and leads the Tigers with 98 carries for 573 yards and eight touchdowns, will be evaluated throughout the week.

Kentucky kickoff time set

Missouri’s next road game Nov. 9 at Kentucky will kick off at 11 a.m. It will be televised by either ESPNU or the Fox Sports Network.

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