Jelani Jenkins expected to return

Updated: October 3, 2012, 3:53 PM ET
By Michael DiRocco | GatorNation

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida coach Will Muschamp is expecting to see linebacker Jelani Jenkins back in the Gators' lineup against LSU on Saturday.

Muschamp said Wednesday that Jenkins, who has missed the past two games with a fractured right thumb, should be cleared to play -- but how much the 6-foot, 237-pound junior will be on the field will be determined by how he performs in practice the rest of this week.

Jenkins hasn't participated in contact work since he suffered the injury against Texas A&M.

"After looking at him the last two days in non-contact, I feel very comfortable he'll be able to go," Muschamp said. "How much will sort of depend as we progress from here to Saturday.

"We'll still determine that through the week, but he'll be able to play in all situations. We wouldn't necessarily limit it right now in my eyes as we move forward. If he can play, he can play, and that means he can play on first-and-10, he can play on third down."

No. 10 Florida (4-0, 3-0 SEC) plays host to fourth-ranked LSU (5-0, 1-0) at Florida Field on Saturday.

The Tigers have the SEC's No. 2 rushing offense led by Kenny Hilliard (368 yards), Michael Ford (225 yards) and Spencer Ware (176 yards). Limiting the Tigers' success on the ground is Florida's top priority on defense, and getting Jenkins back -- even with a cast on his fractured right thumb -- will help.

Jenkins was third on the team with 75 tackles last season and had five tackles before getting injured early in the Gators' victory at Texas A&M on Sept. 8.

Mike DiRocco | email

ESPN Jacksonville Jaguars reporter