- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 13, 2002

While Maryland tailback Bruce Perry spent his second day on the sideline with stomach problems, the Terrapins have made progress in their quarterback competition. After three days of practice, Chris Kelley and Scott McBrien are locked in a tight race for the starting job and have distanced themselves from Orlando Evans.
The morning practice included a scare when starting cornerback Curome Cox suffered a dislocated finger and was taken to Kernan Hospital in Baltimore. He had surgery but did not break or have tendon damage in the injured middle finger of his right hand. The junior and two-year starter will be re-evaluated tomorrow but should be ready when 21st-ranked Maryland opens the season Aug.31 against Notre Dame in the Kickoff Classic.
In contrast, there are growing concerns over whether Perry will be healthy when the Terps meet the Fighting Irish in the Meadowlands. The returning ACC Offensive Player of the Year missed a second day of practice with a sprained abdomen, and is still feeling the effects of an injury that occurred prior to last season's Orange Bowl.
"His doctor seems to feel like he's OK," said Friedgen, after redshirt freshman back Mario Merrills played with the starting unit. "[The doctor] said he's just got some scar tissue in there that he has to kind of work through. I don't know. I'm just a football coach. If he says he can't go, he can't go."
Perry had surgery to remove calcium deposits in his stomach in April and missed spring practice and most of summer workouts. The 5-foot-9, 196-pound junior rushed for 1,242 yards last season after battling nagging injuries and missing practices. The latest setback has turned into a lingering situation that is frustrating the star tailback and his coaches.
"I definitely think we have to send him somewhere," said Friedgen, referring to another medical specialist. "He had this for how many months now? Since January. It's still there. He's been to all of our doctors and doctors in Philadelphia (Perry's hometown). I don't know where to go with it."
In Perry's absence, the 5-10, 197-pound Merrills leads an inexperienced group of tailbacks. Senior Chris Downs is the top reserve. Sophomore Jason Crawford, who was expected to be Perry's successor after he showed flashes last season, slid down the depth chart after coaches were not pleased with his summer workouts.
Kelley and McBrien continue to battle at quarterback. So far, Kelley has bounced back from reconstructive surgery on his right knee three months ago.
"Chris had his best day throwing in a long while," Friedgen said. "I'm not so sure he's not quicker than he used to be. I'm almost amazed. Everything we've asked him to do so far, he's done without any problem at all."
McBrien, a 6-foot, 180-pound transfer from West Virginia, is much more at ease with the complex offense than he was in the spring. The left-handed junior has been impressive with his pinpoint passing and quick release, but he hasn't yet mastered the option attack.
"Running-game wise, he still has a lot to go," Friedgen said. "He's getting a lot more comfortable in the passing game. It's pretty competitive right now."
Friedgen said junior college transfer Evans hasn't been eliminated from the starter's race but is behind the other two. The coach plans to set a depth chart no later than next Tuesday's scrimmage. By then, it will be determined which two quarterbacks will get the majority of the work in preparation for the season opener.
Notes The second of yesterday's two-a-day practices was moved from 4:15 to 7p.m. to compensate for the heat and avoid problems like in Saturday's late session when several linemen and others left early. "We cramped up so much on the first day," Friedgen said. "These are supposed to be learning practices. And they're not learning." Today's previously scheduled afternoon practice also has been moved to 7p.m.
Yesterday's morning practice was held on the outfield of the baseball stadium because one of the practice fields, which had new grass installed, was not ready. While Cox is out, senior Jamal Chance will fill in as a starting cornerback.

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