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blacksaint 10-12-2007 12:35 AM

Wide receiver Doucet returns to LSU practice field
By Glenn Guilbeau
Louisiana Gannett News

BATON ROUGE — The familiar No. 9 of star LSU wide receiver Early Doucet was back in full view at the media portion of LSU's football practice Wednesday for the first time since the week of the Middle Tennessee game last month.

Doucet, who has missed LSU's last four games with a serious groin injury, was catching passes and stretching his legs during the early portion of practice that the media is allowed to see after LSU held a rare closed practice Tuesday.

Doucet practiced in spots last week for the first time since the injury, according to LSU coach Les Miles, who continues to be optimistic about Doucet playing Saturday when No. 1 LSU (6-0) plays at No. 17 Kentucky (5-1) at 2:30 p.m. on CBS.

"It was nice to see Early Doucet out there," Miles said after practice. "He took some snaps in the team period, and he caught some balls. I liked what I saw. If he does play, I don't know how many plays."

Miles said Doucet also practiced on Tuesday.

"I don't think there's any pain," Miles said. "It's a strength and conditioning issue. But he's a strong guy."

Doucet, a senior from St. Martinville who caught 15 passes in LSU's first two games for 143 yards and two touchdowns, is also an anxious guy.

"He's itching to get back," Miles said. "He's dying to play ball. It's fun to see. I think our entire team looks forward to Early's return. It's a lift to this team that he's involved."

Other injuries: Starting right guard Lyle Hitt practiced Wednesday, but he shared more time than usual with backup right guard Ryan Miller as Hitt is nursing an injury suffered Saturday in the Florida game. Miles said he would not identify the injury.

"I don't think it will prevent him from playing," Miles said. "If it does, we'll be fine with Miller."

Hitt left the game Saturday in LSU's final, game-winning possession and was replaced by Miller.

Backup left guard Will Arnold continues not to practice because of a viral infection. The senior has not played since early in the season, but Miles said he still has a chance to return at some point this season.

"I don't know about this week. He's not taking any snaps," Miles said. "He just needs a little more strength and he'll be fine."

Backup middle linebacker Jacob Cutrera of Lafayette has not practiced this week because of an ankle injury suffered against Florida. Miles said he is questionable for the Kentucky game.

Miles apologizes: Miles explained why he closed Tuesday's practice.

"I apologize for closing practice," he said. "I just didn't want any more patting on the back and peripheral smiling. I wanted the players to be focused on Tuesday's practice. We got a good practice Tuesday and today. I like where we're at. I like what's going on. Our team's working hard. I think our attention to detail is good."

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