Arkansas’ receiving corps has lost another member for an extended period of time.
Coach Bret Bielema said sophomore D’Arthur Cowan has suffered a left foot injury that required surgery and will sideline him six to eight weeks. Bielema revealed the news during a radio appearance on 103.7 The Buzz before addressing the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Wednesday afternoon.
Bielema said Cowan was injured during a punt return drill.
“He was really having a great fall camp,” Bielema told 103.7 The Buzz. “It was in pre-practice. He’s a punt return guy. He just kind of caught it, took a couple of steps and heard a crack in his foot. They put a screw in it and he should be back in hopefully a 6 to 8 week window.”
Bielema was not available for comment after Wednesday’s practice.
Cowan’s absence places more pressure on a shrinking group of scholarship receivers. Senior Demetrius Wilson is out for the season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament last week. He was scheduled to undergo surgery today.
Arkansas also lost receiver Mekale McKay before practice began when the sophomore left the program and has since transferred to Cincinnati.
Cowan had been one of the solid surprises of preseason camp, too. He is one of four players who will miss time, joining Wilson, tight end Austin Tate (4 to 6 weeks after shoulder surgery) and linebacker Otha Peters (6 to 8 weeks with a broken arm).
“We’re focusing on moving ahead, keep those guys in our prayers,” Arkansas fullback Kiero Small said. “You don’t want your teammate to go down. But once it happens, it happened. So the next guy has got to step up and be prepared to go play.”
Cowan’s absence leaves Arkansas with six scholarship players at receiver: Seniors Javontee Herndon and Julian Horton, sophomores Keon Hatcher and Eric Hawkins, and true freshmen Drew Morgan and Melvinson Hartfield. Morgan said Wednesday that Hatcher continues to miss practice time with a hamstring injury.
Arkansas also has moved quarterback Brian Buehner to receiver.
“I’ve tried to teach these guys that the next guy in line has to be ready and right now that’s what we’re doing, trying to get the next guy in line ready,” Arkansas receivers coach Michael Smith said earlier this week in response to Wilson’s injury. “So we can go out and have some success on Saturday when we play ULL.”
Bielema typically pulls a player expected to miss an extended amount of time because of injury off of the 105-man roster. It gives the Razorbacks a chance to add another player, but leaves the injured one out of team meetings and functions.
However, Bielema said he hasn’t pulled tight end Austin Tate off the 105-man roster even though he could miss up to six weeks after shoulder surgery. Tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr. said it wasn’t even discussed for a couple of reasons.
“Coach felt pretty firmly about keeping him engaged, one, because hopefully his return is going to be pretty swift. It’s not like it’s a season-ending injury,” Lunney Jr. said. “And two, you’ve got a senior that’s played the most football of anybody in our position group in our room. And he’s really engaged in special teams. He’s a great leader for our football team, so he’s been great.
“Right now he’s Coach Tate. He’s my first assistant, and he’s done a nice job so far of teaching the young guys and staying with the script and all those types of things.”
Bielema gave his team a welcomed break from the grind of preseason camp Tuesday night. Instead of sitting through two hours of scheduled meetings, the Razorbacks loaded up three buses and went to the movies.
Small said the team watched “2 Guns,” which stars Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. He gave the movie — and the break from football — two thumbs up.
“It was a relief,” Small said. “You know, as a team, we’ve been in meetings a lot. We’ve been up here in this same facility. Great facility, you know, but we’re all around each other the whole time. We went into the team meeting thinking we were going to p.m. meetings and we got surprised with a movie.
Said Morgan: “He really takes good care of his players. And I mean — for all the recruits out there, there’s not a coach like him. I heard Bobby Petrino was really hard on players. Coach Bielema, he’s really straight with everyone.”
White on white
Arkansas experimented with several uniform combinations last season.
But Bielema said he has only one combination planned for Arkansas’ road games.
“We’re going to wear all white,” Bielema told 103.7 The Buzz during his radio interview Wednesday. “White pants, white shirts, white helmets. I think our kids are buying into that. They’re liking it and taking a road warrior approach.”
So Arkansas is planning to wear the uniform five teams this season with road trips to Rutgers, Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama and LSU.
“It’s going to be an interesting situation, obviously, when we play LSU because they tend to wear white at home. But we’ll see about that.”