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Playing it safe

Pitt's Fitzgerald held out of practice with hamstring injury

Posted: Friday August 15, 2003 7:28 PM

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PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Pitt wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald did not return to practice for the Panthers Friday, one day after he suffered an injury to his left hamstring.

Coach Walt Harris said he was not sure when the all-star wide receiver would return.

"I think it's going to take a while," Harris said. "Obviously, we're going to be intelligent about when he comes back, but we're not sure when."

Fitzgerald, who set several school receiving records for a freshman last season, spent the entire three-hour practice Friday doing rehab and conditioning for the injury, Harris said.

"Some guys, you have to push them, but Larry, we're going to have to hold him back," Harris said. "I'm sure [trainer] Rob [Blanc] will have a lot to do. Larry probably thinks he's ready to run right now. Obviously, he's not." Because Pitt is just five days into training camp and the team's first game is some three weeks away, the Panthers are erring on the side of caution with Fitzgerald's injury.

The injury will also give the team a chance to test its depth, Harris said.

"As long as it's not permanent or nagging, it's an opportunity for us to see who's going to step up and give those other guys more reps," he said. "Also, I'm looking for some leadership out of that group now that Larry's not there."

The Panthers will be looking to freshmen Kennard Cox, Terrell Allen and Greg Lee while Fitzgerald is out of action.

Other key Panthers are nursing injuries, including tight end Erik Gill, who has a calf problem, and center Justin Belarski, who was icing his eye socket and leg.

Fitzgerald caught 69 passes for 1,005 yards last season, breaking Antonio Bryant's freshman school record of 51 catches for 844 yards. Fitzgerald also became the first Big East Conference freshman to have 1,000 receiving yards in a season.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound receiver had 12 touchdowns, breaking Dwight Collins' freshman school record of 10 touchdowns in 1980.

Pitt, ranked 10th in the AP preseason poll, practices twice Saturday, its first double session. There is one practice Sunday.


 
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