Vaught's Views: Small injuries can become big problems at UK

August 20, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - Small injuries can become big problems.

Just ask receiver Tommy Cook and placekicker Taylor Begley if what starts out as only a nagging injury can turn into something more serious.

Cook, Kentucky's second most experienced receiver, needed surgery Tuesday to remove a bone spur in his ankle. He started experiencing pain in the ankle shortly after the Cats started preseason drills. He tried to keep practicing, but couldn't. Rest didn't help, either.

Now he'll likely miss at least the first two games even though everything went as well as expected with the surgery.


This is a big blow to the Cats. First, Cook is a tough, physical receiver who started all 12 games last year and had 22 catches for 276 yards and two scores. He may not have Olympic speed, but he's a dependable blocker and could make a catch and take a hit at the same time. Second, he was Kentucky's best cover player on punts with seven tackles and one fumble recovery. Remember all those long punts Glenn Pakulak had last year. Normally it was Cook providing the coverage.

He was also slated to perhaps be the other return specialist with Derek Abney on kickoffs and backup holder on extra points and field goals. Plus, he can turn a reverse into a possible pass because he played quarterback in high school.

Kentucky may have some other playmakers at receiver. Once Abney returns from his hamstring injury, that will still allow Glen Holt, Chris Bernard and/or Keenan Burton a chance to show early that they can provide the receptions Cook and Aaron Boone did last year.

"You don't like to get a chance because someone is hurt, especially someone like Tommy, but you also have to be ready to help your team," said Holt.

They found a knot in Begley's quadriceps

Begley hopes no such heroics are needed because of his injury. He developed pain in his kicking leg about a week ago but thought it was only the normal soreness associated with so much kicking and running in preseason camp. Then he found a knot in his quadriceps muscle and knew why the soreness would not go away like it usually did.

This week he's been taking ultrasound treatment, stretching and resting the leg. He did kick a Nerf ball Tuesday, but he's not sure when he will try placekicking again.

"It feels fine when I am just walking," the former Boyle County kicker said. "But when I put stress on the leg with a kick, it feels like I have a tight muscle."

That didn't keep him from kicking well in Saturday's scrimmage when it looked like he may have nailed down the starting job over Clint Ruth. He's hoping the injury will not impact his status as UK's starter, a position he had last year, and he knows it makes sense to get the leg completely well before he kicks again rather than risk a more severe injury.

But he's antsy. He's never been hurt. He knows the opener with Louisville is less than two weeks away. He wants to be kicking, and improving, daily. Instead, he can only watch and hope. Even teammates have told him they've never seen him so down during his years at Kentucky.

"I'm climbing the walls. I want to be kicking, or doing something," Begley said.

He's already told the trainer not to take it personally, but that he hopes he doesn't see him again this season once he is fully recovered.

"I am going to try and stay as sharp mentally as I can and stay focused on the first game," Begley said. "But it is very frustrating to have something that you didn't think would be that big a problem turn into a big problem."

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