September 12, 2011

Monday Notes: Injury updates, 'special' teams

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Florida State began preparations for the top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners on Monday night without a few key contributors.

Receiver Willie Haulstead (concussion) was not on the field as practice began. Fellow wideout Bert Reed was in a walking boot and unable to participate after injuring his ankle on Saturday against Charleston Southern.

Reed was joined by cornerback Xavier Rhodes in a walking boot as well. Before practice head coach Jimbo Fisher was optimistic about Reed and said Haulstead would be listed as day-to-day.

"I think he'll be fine," Fisher said of Reed. "He still has a little bit of swelling in his ankle, but not very much I don't think. It may keep him (out) a day or so, but he seems to pretty good."

Quarterback EJ Manuel also expects Reed to be back by the time Saturday rolls around. He would also like to have the 6-foot-3, 213-pound Hausltead available for the Sooners.

"Willie is as big receiver, he can run, he can make routes, he can make plays for us," Manuel said on Monday. "He was a great receiver last year so it'll be huge for us to get him back."

Special Teams will be a big factor against OU

With two teams as evenly matched talent-wise as FSU and OU, it is likely that special teams will have big impact on the outcome of the game.

Last season the Sooners gave up four kickoff returns for touchdowns, but the rest of their special teams unit was solid.

"I think special teams is the thing we don't talk about," Fisher said. "(OU has) great returners, Broyles is a great returner, they kick and they have great special teams too, so special teams will be a huge factor in this football game."

If FSU is going to win the field position battle it will need a big day from punter Shawn Powell, who has a net average of 36.2 yards per punt to go along with three punts inside the 20-yard line so far this season.

"We've got to start them in the 20. That's what me and Dustin (Hopkins) strive for," Powell said after practice. "He kicks touchbacks and then our kickoff team tries to go down there and stop them before they get to the 20-yard line, and then every punt I want to punt I hope it goes inside the 20. If me and Dustin do our jobs then there's nothing to worry about on special teams' side of the ball."

Thomas finally gets in the mix

After missing a few weeks early in the preseason with migraine headaches, and not playing in the season opener, running back Jermaine Thomas saw his first action of the season on Saturday.

The senior tailback rushed the ball four time for 23 yards, good for an average of 5.8 yards per carry.

"It felt good to get back out there on the field," he said after the game. "I feel like my O-line did a great job opening up some holes, and I was able to hit them."

Thomas admitted that missing practice early in the season wasn't easy for him as he approached his final season at FSU.

"It was very hard. I had to humble myself because I love the game and most definitely wanted to be out there with my teammates," he said. " It was just a matter of my migraines and stuff like that, just getting over it, having to wait it out."

The migraines weren't a new problem for Thomas, but they just hit him a little harder this time than in the past.

"I've had migraines for a good little period of time," he said. "This time it just kind of kicked in kind of heavy for me and just took a while for me to come back."


  • Nick Moody, who didn't play on Saturday due to a quad injury, was in full pads and participating Monday night.

  • Bryan Stork was working as the first-team center, as Jacob Fahrenkrug moved to left guard and David Spurlock back to right guard.

  • The honorary captains for Saturday will be former FSU greats Ron Simmons and Brad Johnson.

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