CLEMSON - Wednesday will be a benchmark for the trio of injured Clemson players hoping for a return to the field on Saturday.
Defensive linemen Charles Bennett (sprained knee) and Cory Groover (sprained ankle), along with running back Duane Coleman (broken foot), will use Wednesday evening's practice as a test of their recovery. How well they perform - along with continued rehab and treatment - will go a long way in determining their status for Saturday's game at Texas A&M.
Coleman and Bennett were in green jerseys (limited contact), while Groover was in yellow (no contact).
"Cory would be more questionable (to play) than Bennett," head coach Tommy Bowden said. "And Duane, I just don't know because he's been out so long. He worked some today...but he didn't get hit."
How much work each can do today will have been determined long before they hit the practice field.
All injured players are required to report for treatment at 6 a.m., and the coaches are updated on their condition before the daily 7 a.m. staff meeting. Practice is then planned with or without the injured players, depending on how well they responded to treatment.
The Tigers were scheduled to come off the field at 6 p .m. Tuesday, but defensive coordinator John Lovett kept one group for extra work defending deep balls. Another group of four offensive linemen were held back for extra drills - "maybe for a penalty or something," Bowden said with a grin - by line coach Brad Scott.
All together, Bowden didn't meet the media until approximately 40 minutes after the workout was scheduled to end.
"We'll probably have to come off early (today) to make up for it," he said. "We need to save their legs."
Asked again about his playing rotation at running back, Bowden said he would continue to evaluate over the next couple of days before deciding who starts vs. the Aggies.
"All things being equal, Yusef (Kelly) would probably start but they'll all three (Kyle Browning, Reggie Merriweather) play about an equal amount," Bowden said.
Asked if who finished the game, as opposed to starting it, wasn't the most important, Bowden grinned.
"It's not how you start, it's how you finish. I found that out," he said.