USC wide receiver Bruce Ellington was wearing a yellow jersey after Monday night’s practice, which is not good news for the Gamecocks.
Ellington, the Gamecocks leading returning receiver with 40 receptions for 600 yards and 7 TDs in 2012, has missed most of the preseason with a sore hamstring.
Ellington appeared to be rounding back into shape over the weekend, running through most drills during Saturday’s practice, but had a setback during Sunday’s workout. On Monday, he was limited again, but hopeful he could still play against North Carolina on Thursday night.
“(Sunday) I came out and practiced good but had a little tweak, but I think I’ll be ready to play Thursday,” said Ellington. “It’s a day-by-day thing. There’s not any pain when I’m jogging, but when I hit full speed I feel it a little bit. But I think I can fight through it.”
I’ve seen the former Berkeley High School star perform at a high level with injuries. He scored three touchdowns and rushed for 174 yards on a bad ankle in the Class AAAA Lower State finals his senior year against Goose Creek. He obviously knows his body better than anyone else. But I’d much rather see Bruce sit out Thursday night’s opener against North Carolina rather than suffer another injury that could keep him out on a long-term basis. I’ve said from the beginning hamstring are funny injuries. You can play on a sprained ankle or a sore knee, and you know about how long you’ll be out if you that kind of injury. But if a hamstring isn’t healed, and out play on it, you’ll end up doing more damage.
Ellington said that Tuesday’s practice will give him a good indication about his chances for playing Thursday.
“It’s boring being on the sideline,” Ellington said with a chuckle. “It’s hard coming out here watching the guys do one-on-one drills and not being able to practice. I want to be out here. Hopefully, I’ll be out there soon. I thought I was fine (Sunday), I felt good and then I felt something, so right now I’m just taking it day-by-day.”
Ellington said there is no plan to keep him out of the North Carolina game to save him for the match-up against nationally-ranked Georgia on Sept. 7.
“We’re worried about North Carolina right now,” Ellington said. “We’re not even thinking about Georgia.”
If Ellington cannot play on Thursday, the Gamecocks would be forced to play with an inexperienced receiving unit. Damiere Byrd (14 catches, 366 yards, 3 TDs); Nick Jones (12-197-0); Shaq Roland (5-80-1) and tight end Jerell Adams (4-90-1) combined did not match Ellington’s production during the 2012 season. Shamier Jeffery, who has had a good preseason camp, has yet to catch a pass during his career, but is expected to be a bigger factor in the Gamecocks offense this season.
In addition to Ellington, those who remain on the injury list include Rory Anderson (hamstring), Cedrick Cooper (elbow), Cody Gibson (knee), Carlton Heard (hamstring), James King (foot), Mike Matulis (shoulder), Kyle Morini (elbow), Gerald Turner (ankle) and Devin Washington (concussion).