- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 20, 2005

Maryland will go ahead with a limited scrimmage today after coach Ralph Friedgen decided the team’s inexperience outweighed the chance of further injuries.

The Terrapins are reeling from a series of injuries at offensive line and fullback as they get ready for their season opener against Navy on Sept. 3. Friedgen expects to run half of a scrimmage at Byrd Stadium, with veterans getting little work. The scrimmage is closed to the public.

“You run the risk of injuries, but I’ve got so many kids that haven’t played in a game that I think it’s important they’re put in game situations to see what they can do,” said Friedgen, who had considered canceling the scrimmage. “We still need to see how they perform in a stadium.

“I’m trying to get the team ready, and how do you do that if they’re not practicing?”

The Terps shortened both practices yesterday, with rain hampering the final hour of the morning workout. Friedgen reviewed the amount of contact in practices after three players suffered season-ending knee injuries and nearly a dozen were hurt.

Maryland’s injury woes worsened with safety Marcus Wimbush and guard Lee Oliver missing practice after concussions Thursday. Receiver Danny Melendez underwent an MRI on a sore knee. However, guards Russell Bonham (sore shoulder) and Donnie Woods (strained rotator cuff), running back Mario Merrills (sprained ankle), fullback Ricardo Dickerson (sprained ankle) and safety Josh Wilson (lacerated calf) returned for noncontact drills. Fullback Tim Cesa (mononucleosis) is running and may return Aug. 29.

The Terps largely will work on various offensive scenarios, including red zone, two-minute and long yardage situations, against a live defense limited only by not hitting the quarterback. Maryland’s final scrimmage Thursday will focus more on special teams. Nearly the entire offensive scheme has been installed, though injuries have prevented some plays from being used.

“We’re about done with installation,” Friedgen said. “The problem is some things we can’t put it in because we don’t have the players to put it in. It’s in. We just can’t practice it.”

Merrills missed the last five days, and it could prove costly. He was expected to start but now is battling Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball for the position.

“To me, you have to earn your way back,” Friedgen said. “He’ll be in the mix. It just depends on how he’s doing it. It’s a close race between the three guys.”

That Friedgen considered forgoing the scrimmages because of injuries caused him to champion spring scrimmages against other colleges. Football teams can’t scrimmage other teams, though other sports, such as basketball, can.

“Our sport is more legislated against than any other sport,” he said. “Every other team can practice as much as they want. Basketball has preseason games. Why wouldn’t we play Navy in the spring scrimmage? It would probably raise some money.”

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