One of the last things the Hurricanes want to happen during fall camp is a serious injury to a starter. Good thing for them, linebacker Michael Pinckney’s injury seems to be minor.
The Hurricanes held out Pinckney from Thursday’s practice as he recovered from a “tweaked” ankle. The hope is the junior will be able to participate in Saturday night’s scrimmage, with the team scheduled to have an off-day Friday.
“We put it in a boot just for compression and to not let it swell,” coach Mark Richt said Thursday. “We decided to keep him out today. No practice tomorrow. We hope he’ll scrimmage.”
Pinckney was seen on the practice field in full pads during the media viewing portion of practice, but he was working on the side with a trainer on conditioning. He did not look to be wearing any extra tape or protection on either of his ankles.
Pinckney, who is expected to start at weak-side linebacker, has not missed a game over the first two seasons of his Hurricanes career. The Jacksonville native has totaled 129 tackles (18.5 tackles for loss) and six sacks in 26 games (24 starts) with Miami.
Redshirt senior Mike Smith is believed to be Pinckney’s primary backup. Smith has played in 31 games, but has made just one start with the Hurricanes.
Here are other highlights from Richt’s session with the media Thursday …
* Richt said the Hurricanes expect tight end Michael Irvin II to make a full recovery after undergoing surgery to repair an MCL injury in his right knee Wednesday, and he could even be back before the end of the season. The plan is that Irvin will redshirt this season, with the new rule allowing players to participate in up to four games without burning a year of eligibility. Irvin would enter next season as a redshirt junior.
“If he recovers quickly, he can actually play the last four games or even one game at the end if it came down to it and not lose a redshirt,” Richt said of Irvin. “He’s going to be able to redshirt, I would think, no matter what. We would never play him if he’s not ready. But you never know how good a guy feels by the end of the season. It’s possible, I’m not saying it’s probable. But what’s certain is he’s going to be back 100 percent from that injury.”
With Irvin out, the Hurricanes will rely on sophomore Brian Polendey and freshmen Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory to fill the void at tight end. But depth is an issue at this spot, with just these three scholarship tight ends on the roster.
“The young guys are still learning what to do, but they’re learning fast. They are talented kids. But they’re freshmen, like anybody else,” Richt said.
“Right this minute we had to stop practice short today because I just don’t have enough tight ends on our roster right now. Our threes didn’t even get to practice short yardage because we just flat out didn’t have enough people. So I got to get more tight ends in this program.”
* Richt said the Hurricanes will try to replicate their usual gameday routine leading up to Saturday night’s scrimmage, which will be held at Hard Rock Stadium. The scrimmage will be closed to the media and general public.
“This is the closest thing that we have to a game. And we’re going to go ahead and do it at night, and we’re going to actually have our pregame meal like we normally have for a game,” Richt said. “We’re going to have our pregame warmup as we do for a game. We’re going to try to make it as much like a game as possible. The night before and even the day off. So just see who is close enough to say he’s either on the plane or he’s going to play or he’s a starter.”
In the scrimmage, the first-string units will play against the second-team. The third-team units will face each other.
COVERAGE FROM DAY 5 OF FALL CAMP
COVERAGE FROM DAY 4 OF FALL CAMP
COVERAGE FROM DAY 3 OF FALL CAMP