COLUMBIA — It’s hard to be definitive on a player returning from injury. There are surprises, speed bumps in the process. South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward learned that last week when Jadeveon Clowney missed a game he was expected to play.
But, after Thursday’s practice, Clowney’s return is imminent. The All-American defensive end practiced for the second straight day, and Ward said he expects the Gamecocks’ star to play Saturday when No. 14 USC travels to Arkansas for a 12:21 p.m. kickoff.
“I think he’ll play, based on what we’ve seen the last two days,” Ward said. “He’s gotten better. He’s still getting a lot of treatment, and he’ll continue to get a lot of treatment, but I think he’ll play.
“If he’s healthy, he’ll start. He’s getting better every day.”
Clowney missed South Carolina’s game Saturday against Kentucky with a strained muscle near his rib cage. From bone spurs in his foot to the flu bug, the junior has had his share of health-related issues this fall. His rib injury was the only thing to keep him out of a game.
On Tuesday, Clowney said he gets treatment three times daily. Ward said he checked with athletic trainer Clint Haggard earlier Thursday, and Clowney had already gotten two rounds of treatment. His progress has been good this week. Ward said part of Clowney’s quick recovery was resting against Kentucky instead of pushing himself.
“If you’ve got a pulled muscle in your rib, Clint says the only thing you can do for it is treatment, and rest is what helps it,” Ward said. “So apparently it helped him to where he was able to practice on Wednesday, and he practiced again today.
“He’s got some nicks and some nacks, some injuries that he’s had, but JD is a competitive young man. I think all the attention that him not playing the Kentucky game that he got, I think it’s going to be motivation.”