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August 24, 2012

Thursday Practice: Will Powell play?

Monday, Florida head coach Will Muschamp met with media and talked about Oct. 1 as the day when the Gators would start evaluating exactly when junior Buck linebacker Ronald Powell would be able to contribute this season.

Thursday, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn confirmed he is definitely planning to see Powell on the field for his defense this season.

"I would think he'd be approaching it that way, too," Quinn said. "I'm really proud of the way he's approached this. The guy has been very aggressive and diligent and on it, so I am expecting to have him back at some point."

Muschamp has spent plenty of time praising Powell for his demeanor since tearing his ACL in spring's Orange and Blue Debut, but Quinn went out of his way to do the same. He said the way he has handled the situation has set a great example for young players. Powell has become a guy for talented freshmen like Dante Fowler Jr. and Jonathan Bullard to look up to.

"They saw who he was as a player, but I think they also saw that he's in every meeting and that he's out doing extra and that kind of thing," Quinn said. "So I think he's earned that respect from those players."

After Florida practices conclude, Powell can be seen working individually with Quinn, doing whatever kind of drills he can do. The two work extensively on hand technique and other things that supplement his rehab.

Quinn said the two previously discussed these workouts and how he would be able to gradually ease back into the flow of workouts.

Easley still limited: The victim of Florida's other prominent ACL injury is defensive end Dominique Easley. The Gators have been cautious with Easley this fall, even though Quinn said he completely fine to take part in entire games starting Sept. 1.

Regardless, the staff has limited Easley's reps and practice schedules throughout fall camp. Quinn will occasionally keep track of how much he works in each period of practice and hold him out of specific things. He stressed it is all precautionary.

"I'm pretty pleased with where he's at, and his conditioning level is good and his strength's good, so, you know, ready to go," he said.

Versatility: With the cornerback battle as tightly contested as it is, Quinn is making it his job to find other places where corners can fit in. It's this reason that has junior Cody Riggs and freshman Brian Poole moving around a bit.

Quinn started tinkering with Riggs at safety during the spring, and the Gators initially put Poole at safety when he arrived despite the fact he played corner in high school. Both have flipped through safety, nickel and corner during fall camp depending on the situation. A big are of need for both could be playing safety when Matt Elam steps up to nickel and corner in various other situations.

"You like a guy (like Poole) with long arms that can press, so we've bounced him back and forth a little bit," Quinn said.

The linebackers: It's safe to say Jelani Jenkins and Jonathan Bostic have secured their starting jobs at Will and Mike linebacker, respectively. The rotation behind them has seen freshman Antonio Morrison and sophomore Michael Taylor get extensive looks. But have the two linebackers been set to one position?

"Both of them could play either, and then as we move forward into the season we'll probably lock into one going to one and one to the other," Quinn said. "As you go through and you see who is really more comfortable with making the calls, we'll probably make a determination on that within the next few days. I feel comfortable with either guy playing [middle linebacker]. I really would."


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