Driskel, Morrison return to Gators

Updated: August 9, 2013, 2:10 PM ET
By Michael DiRocco | GatorNation

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida had two key players back on the practice field, but the Gators have lost several more after a rash of non-contact injuries.

Quarterback Jeff Driskel and Antonio Morrison worked out with the team Thursday night for the first time. Driskel had missed the first six practices while he recovered from an appendectomy, and Morrison was suspended as part of his punishment for a pair of arrests in a five-week period.

Both players still have to undergo the NCAA-mandated acclimation period and cannot be in full pads until their fifth practice. Driskel has been at every practice but had not been cleared to participate until Thursday morning.

"It was tough, but it's better than it happening during the middle of the season," Driskel said. "I didn't miss too much. I missed six days and I feel like I didn't miss a beat, so it wasn't that big of a deal."

Florida coach Will Muschamp said Driskel looked sharp as he led the team on a game-winning field goal drive during a one-minute situation drill at the end of practice.

"He had great command in what we were doing and directing traffic with our offensive football team," Muschamp said. " … He threw the ball extremely well. Nice zip on the ball. He threw a couple nice touch passes."

Muschamp suspended Morrison indefinitely after his July 21 arrest for allegedly barking at a police dog and resisting arrest. He also had been arrested June 16 and charged with battery after allegedly punching a nightclub bouncer after being refused reduced admission.

Morrison, who is expected to be the starter at middle linebacker, will miss at least the first two games of the season (against Toledo and the Miami Hurricanes), and Muschamp added Friday that Morrison still has other obligations to meet.

"He's still working through some things," Muschamp said. "I feel like missing a week of camp was a pretty strong statement to him and where I stood with some things. He's still a part of our team. He was never not part of our team. He was just suspended from all team activities."

Muschamp confirmed freshman linebacker Matt Rolin will miss the season after tearing the ACL in his left knee for the second time. Senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs will be out 10 days with a knee sprain, and senior Jaylen Watkins is out until Aug. 19 after suffering a sprained right foot.

Those injuries come just days after redshirt senior kick returner Andre Debose suffered a torn ACL in his left knee.

All four of the injuries came in non-contact situations.

"It's almost you can stomach [a contact injury] a little better, because football's a tough game, football's a violent game," Muschamp said. "Unfortunately, you hate to be hard about it, but that's part of the game and they understand that when they play."

Muschamp also said freshman offensive lineman Rod Johnson underwent surgery Friday to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, an injury Johnson suffered in high school.

Mike DiRocco | email

ESPN Jacksonville Jaguars reporter

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