Get psyched. This team is thin, w/ some breaks an upset could happen.
Terps' Perry Out at Least One Month
Muscle Tear Is Confirmed; Merrills, Crawford Thrust in Spotlight at Tailback
By Josh Barr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 23, 2002; Page D04
Maryland received the news it expected yesterday, when a team physician confirmed running back Bruce Perry has a severely torn groin muscle and will be out of action for at least one month. The prognosis was somewhat positive, though, as there was no damage to the ligament that attaches the muscle to the bone; had there been any damage, Perry would have required season-ending surgery.
"I talked to Bruce and he is doing fine," Terrapins Coach Ralph Friedgen said. "He was very emphatic that he was going to start his rehab and get this right. He wants to play this year. I was kind of proud of the way he reacted.
"I thought he might be very hurt and down, but he was more determined than anything else."
In a best-case scenario, Friedgen said, Perry could return by mid-September. However, the coach said Perry's recovery could take as long as eight weeks, which would mean last season's ACC offensive player of the year would miss at least six games.
Redshirt freshman Mario Merrills and sophomore Jason Crawford are expected to split time at tailback in Perry's absence.
"We have to step up," said Merrills, who added that the left shoulder he dislocated last week is fine. "It's our time right now. We have to take advantage of it."
Perry was not the only Maryland player to visit the training room yesterday. Wide receiver and punt returner Steve Suter, who has impressed coaches throughout the preseason, pulled a quadriceps muscle in practice.
"I don't know how serious that is, but I'm concerned," said Friedgen, who expected Suter to be out until at least Monday.
The injures were just the latest to a team that has growing medical concerns, prompting Friedgen to gather his players after practice yesterday to rally their spirits. After going through last season relatively healthy, the Terrapins have seen several players -- including Perry, linebacker E.J. Henderson and quarterback Chris Kelley -- sidelined with major injuries since the end of last season. Henderson and Kelley are back to practice after suffering serious back and knee injuries, respectively.
"We just have to overcome adversity, regardless of who gets hurt or if a coach leaves," Friedgen said. "Whatever it takes, we're going to get it done. We just have to keep our focus on the target."
In addition to the newest injuries, several other players remain out and likely will miss the Aug. 31 season opener against Notre Dame. Linebacker Ricardo Dickerson is trying to recover from a partially torn knee ligament and cornerback Gerrick McPhearson has been sidelined with a pulled hamstring.
Backup center Ed Tyler is out with a fractured leg. Although it is unlikely any of those players will be available against the Fighting Irish, Friedgen expects cornerback Curome Cox to be ready; Cox has been out because of a dislocated finger that required surgery.
In all, more than two dozen other players have missed at least some practice time, straining the team's depth. It has been a hectic month for the team's medical and training staff -- and the regular season, which will be the longest in school history with 12 regular games, is still a week away.
"That comes with the territory," Friedgen said. "Some days you're dodging the bullets. And some days the bullets hit. You've got to go on. I like the way the team has responded."
Said team trainer Sandy Worth: "Safe to say, we're busy. You have people running at each other and they're very fast, very big and very strong. The hope is that nothing happens, but you have to face the facts."
Last season, on the way to winning the ACC title, the Terrapins' most significant injury issue was when cornerback Tony Okanlawon missed four games because of an undisclosed medical condition.
"It was very unusual to go through a whole season like that with so few injuries," defensive tackle C.J. Feldheim said. "I think we do have a little bit of bad luck right now. But we have a bunch of guys to fill in."