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UM fine-tunes before opener

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 28, 2000

Around the state

CORAL GABLES -- As some of their injured players returned, the Hurricanes continued work for Thursday's season opener against McNeese State with a two-hour practice Sunday afternoon.

"I think our weekend has been productive," coach Butch Davis said. "It's a little bit crazy trying to simulate a game-week practice with a Thursday game. That meant (Sunday's) practice is a Tuesday type of workout. But I think we're coming together and I'm encouraged."

One development Davis cited was the execution of the offense.

Defensively, end Jevon Rhodes stood out as one of the team's most improved players at end.

"Today was probably the most productive offensive practice we've had in a week," Davis said. "We looked really sharp, really crisp with our execution. We've really been working on the different stunts and blitzes McNeese uses and the guys are getting familiar with everything."

Tight end Jeremy Shockey returned to full-speed work after shaking the lingering effects of a sprained ankle. Running back Jarrett Payton and receiver Kevin Beard, both with ankle sprains, are limited. Beard is being held out of contact drills and Davis said Payton is several days from returning.

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