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August 6, 2012OXFORD, Miss. -- Ole Miss received a double dose of bad news Monday when the Rebels learned both Charles Sawyer and Collins Moore could miss extended time following injuries Sunday.
Sawyer, a third-team pre-season All-Southeastern Conference safety, tore a quadriceps muscle later in Sunday's practice. He dressed out Monday but did not go through drills. Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said Sawyer will likely miss 4-6 weeks.
Sawyer started all 12 games last season, splitting time at cornerback and safety and recording 70 tackles and four interceptions. Sawyer's absence forces freshmen Trae Elston and Quintavius Burdette into the top two spots at the rover position in the Rebels' secondary.
"I know we're very excited about Quintavius and Elston," Freeze said. "They're going to have to play. I think they're going to be good ones. How good they'll be as a true freshman, I don't know, but I love them both."
Moore, a sophomore wide receiver, tore a labrum early in Sunday's practice. Freeze said Moore will go through rehabilitation "and see what happens, but that's not an easy position to play receiver with."
Moore entered fall camp as the starter at Ole Miss' H-receiver spot, ahead of Philander Moore and Korvic Neat. Moore played in 10 games as a freshman last season, starting three. He caught four passes for 69 yards and followed that up with a strong performance in the spring.
"The thing with Collins is he's a great leader and he knew everything," Freeze said. "He knew the mental side of it, and I just knew the consistency we would get out of him. He's a bigger target than some of the smaller inside guys we have."
With Moore out, Neat and Tobias Singleton will see their roles increase, Freeze said, adding that the Rebels have to "find some tight ends that can catch the ball in space, too, or move a tailback out there. We'll start exploring other opportunities, but (Moore) was a bigger, more physical guy that understood everything. That's the thing you lose in him."
Freeze wouldn't rule out the possibility that Moore could play through the injury this season.
"I had a kid last year (at Arkansas State) try to play with it," Freeze said. "It'll take about three to four weeks of rehab and then we'll see where he's at. Then we have until Game 3 (Sept. 15 versus Texas) to decide if he gets a redshirt or not. So we're going to take the positive route and try to get him ready. So it's hard to say."
Freeze said Moore's injury will require surgery eventually.
"It's a matter of whether we do it now or do it after the season," Freeze said.
Freeze said the early bad luck with injuries won't stop the Rebels from being as physical in camp as he originally planned.
"I think we've got to set the tone," Freeze said. "We go back and forth on that, but I just don't think we can change the mentality if we can get after it. We pray every day that God will take care of us and keep us healthy, but injuries are a part of football. It doesn't just happen at Ole Miss. It happens everywhere.
"I'm not a negative guy and I'm not a guy that gets down real easy, but man, when you see a kid that gets hurt like a Charles Sawyer or a Collins Moore, man, you really hurt. It makes you sick in your stomach and you don't sleep real well. At the same time, you just know this game is a physical game and if you're not practicing that way, you're not going to play that way. I don't think you can replace that."
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