'Sweet Pea' has bad knee

August 19, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON — Kentucky senior defensive end Vincent “Sweet Pea” Burns was scheduled to have arthroscopic surgery on his knee this morning to repair a small cartilage tear.

Burns had missed three practices because of soreness in his knee. Tests Wednesday revealed the injury.

If all goes well, Burns should be able to play in Kentucky’s season-opening game Sept. 5 at Louisville. Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said he didn’t know exactly when Burns would be able to return, but that “it should be the week before the Louisville game.”

Burns is Kentucky’s defensive leader. He had 72 tackles and 18 quarterback sacks, the best mark in the Southeastern Conference, last year. He was the only Kentucky player named to the preseason All-SEC team.

Burns has also been named to three preseason national award watch lists — Lombardi Award for the top lineman, Bronko Nagurski Award for best defensive player and Ted Hendricks Award for best defensive end.


With Burns out, Kentucky has been using Ellery Moore and Trey Mielsch on the first unit. Junior college transfer B. Jay Parsons and redshirt freshman Travis Day are their backups.

Former UK offensive lineman Sylvester Miller, now an assistant coach at Dunbar High School, had three similar knee surgeries during his collegiate career.

“He should be back in two weeks at the most,” Miller said. “If he didn’t think he would be back for Louisville, he would never be having this surgery now. It’s just something that needed to get taken care of now so it wouldn’t bother him all year.”

Miller practiced against Burns for two years and says he has no doubts about Burns’ pro potential.

“He’s as good as (former UK defensive end) Dennis Johnson and he’s been in the league (NFL) for three years,” Miller said. “He can play in the NFL.”

Several other players continued to nurse injuries and missed practice Wednesday. They included three running backs — freshman Rafael Little (knee), freshman Tony Dixon (ankle) and junior Andrew Hopewell (ankle). Dixon had been switched from cornerback to running back Tuesday because of Hopewell’s injury but hurt himself on about a 40-yard run.

Redshirt freshman receiver Jacob Tamme practiced, but dropped several passes. He had his thumb heavily taped after jamming it in practice earlier this week.

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