By LEE ADAMS
Mississippi State will be dealing with a lack of experienced depth at the tight end position this year as Kendrick Cook is out with a neck injury.
Cookâ€™s injury means Marcus Green, who sat out most of last season with an torn ligament in his knee, is going to be the only one with experience at the position, but tight ends coach Scott Sallach, who is entering his third year with the Bulldogs, doesnâ€™t seem concerned.
â€śWe are making progress but we have a young group with the exception of Marcus Green,â€ť Sallach said. â€śEveryday is big learning day even for Marcus because he hasnâ€™t played since the Auburn game last year. At every practice, we are taking steps to get to where we need to be to help the offense be successful.â€ť
MSU head coach Dan Mullen doesnâ€™t seem too concerned about the in-experience at tight end either.
â€śWe are doing OK, â€ś said Mullen. â€śThose guys are learning and weâ€™ll get them ready to play.â€ť
Green played in only two games last season, but had a good sophomore year in 2009 to build off of.
In his sophomore season, he scored three touchdowns and compiled 306 yards on 27 catches. Green earned six starts in 2009 and played in all 12 games. His biggest game that season was against LSU where he caught five passes for 100 yards and one touchdown.
Sallach isnâ€™t worried about Greenâ€™s ability on the field, but knows coming back from an injury can be mentally grueling.
â€śHe (Green) has to get himself focused on the mental aspect of playing again,â€ť said Sallach. â€śKnowing what to do and how to it is not his problem, itâ€™s the mental and physical part of going out and doing it is what he needs to focus on.â€ťÂ
Green agrees with Sallach and is working hard to be at 100 percent when the season rolls around.
â€śIâ€™ve still got a lot more to go but I feel better and better every day,â€ť Green said. â€śI expect to be full speed by September 1.â€ť
Other than preparing himself for the season, Green is also leading fellow tight ends Brandon Hill, who was redshirted last season, and Rufus Warren, who is a true freshman. Hill and Warren are inexperienced, but Green is making sure he is helping out whenever he can.
â€śAll the tight ends behind me are very good too,â€ť Green said. â€śMy main thing is Iâ€™m just trying to teach them how to work and be aggressive each and every day.â€ť
As two-a-days are underway, Sallach is making sure his guys are working hard to get ready to help the offense.
â€śThey have to take advantage of every opportunity they are given to work on the necessary skills,â€ť said Sallach. â€śI have to make sure they are working and then put them in the situations that are their strengths.â€ťÂ
Green has one last year to play at this level and he wants to leave a lasting impression on his teammates and in the history books.
â€śI just want to leave these guys with great intensity and knowing whenever you fall down youâ€™ve got to get back up,â€ť said Green. â€śFor me, I just want to be a champion before I leave.â€ť
Green also, hopes to stay healthy this season, and heâ€™s not letting his past injuries play a factor in this season.
â€śYouâ€™ve got to put the injuries behind you,â€ť Green said. â€śFootball is a dangerous game. The main thing is knowing you are playing for a team who loves you and the best thing you can do is rehab and get back.â€ť
If Green stays healthy like he plans and Hill and Warren continue to progress, the tight ends are sure to play a role in the Bulldog offense.Â
â€śI think we have an opportunity to be a big part of what weâ€™re doing on offense,â€ť said Sallach. â€śWe have such a versatile and athletic group that they will have an opportunity to create a lot of mismatches for the teams weâ€™re playing. If they progress like they are capable of, I think theyâ€™ll play a big role this year.â€ť