Thursday Highsmith was not dressed out. He worked with trainers on conditioning and stretching exercises while his teammates practiced. Wright was back in full pads and participated in some early non contact drills.
"I think he's (Wright) probably ready," defensive coordinator Paul Haynes said following the workout. "I think we're just being a little cautious with it. Just making sure he gets out there and gets some mental reps and is not just banging around until we're for sure (that he's ready for contact)."
"Highsmith is getting better too," Haynes continued. "It's a little bit of the same situation but just a different injury. Just making sure we don't do anything crazy and get him hurt again."
Senior safety Ross Rasner said it hasn't been all bad with Wright and Highsmith out. "Guys like Otha Peters and A.J. Turner, they're really stepping up at linebacker," Rasner said. "They're big physical guys. We don't want Tank (Wright) and Alonzo hurt but it definitely gives those guys some good reps with the ones."
Senior fullback Kiero Small worked extensively at linebacker for the first time on Thursday. "I think he's doing great," Haynes said when asked to evaluate Small's work at that position. "He's played linebacker before in high school. I think he fits in. A fullback is a thumper. A guy whose not afraid of contact."
At 5'-10" and 255 lbs., Small has been perhaps the best pass blocker from among the offensive backs. However he found out just how imposing Heisman trophy candidate Knile Davis can be these days. During a pass blocking drill Small found himself in Davis' crosshairs as he tried to maneuver past him. Davis turned Small to the outside and shoved him to the ground.
It was a new experience for Small attacking the backs instead of defending them but as Haynes put it, "He'll get better."
Haynes said looking at video of Tuesday's full contact scrimmage confirmed what he knew right after it was over; that he had a lot of young players on the field making mistakes.
"The good thing is," Haynes pointed out, "today the mistakes that they made it seems like they corrected. Like I said back then, 'we'll get it right' and we did get it right from then until today."
Redshirt freshman Kelvin Fisher Jr, who came to Arkansas as a running back before being moved to cornerback last fall, was pressed into service at safety just two days before the scrimmage. Fisher said Thursday's limited contact scrimmage was the secondary's best practice so far.
"As a defense I definitely feel like we're getting better and better every day," Fisher proclaimed. "I feel like if we just keep climbing toward our goal then we'll be pretty good."
Cornerback Darius Winston said the improvement came from a refusal to accept the five touchdowns that Tyler Wilson and Brandon Allen threw in Tuesday's scrimmage.
"Our coach (Haynes) called us out," Winston revealed. "He told us to come out and compete. Receivers scoring touchdowns on us, that's something that shouldn't happen. We're going to do whatever it takes to stop big plays".
Fisher was moved after an injury to starting safety Eric Bennett but he figures to stay at safety even after Bennett returns.
"There's no indication that I'm going to be back at corner soon," Fisher told the Razorback Nation. "I'm a team player so if they need me (back at cornerback) I'll make the switch. Right now it seems like I'm a full time safety."