Christopher Smith

Miami RB Duke Johnson To Miss Spring Practice

Created on Jan. 20, 2014 8:29 PM EST

Miami running back Duke Johnson isn't expected to be ready to practice this spring after suffering a gruesome injury against Florida State in 2013, he told the Miami Herald on Monday.

Johnson broke his ankle during a 41-14 loss to the eventual national champions on Nov. 2. He rushed for 920 yards on 6.3 yards per carry prior to the injury, good for second in the ACC at the time behind Heisman finalist Andre Williams.

“I’m really excited in the progress I’ve made, and everyone else is excited, too,” Johnson told the paper. “I don’t believe I will [participate this spring]. But if anything changes, you’ll see. But I don’t really think so.”

The running back will be a senior in 2014. He's on track to be cleared for on-field activity this summer, according to the report.

We knew it would take Johnson a while to rehab the ankle almost from the moment he got injured. Though nothing like the horror show of Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware's compound leg fracture last spring, the visual was cringe-worthy nonetheless. Miami was a bit of a paper tiger at 7-0 before the game and was well on its way to a loss before Johnson left the game, but the team went 2-4 without him, including a road loss to Duke that gave the Blue Devils a Coastal Division championship and a 27-point defeat to Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

Dallas Crawford finished the season with 558 yards rushing and proved capable as a receiver, but averaged 4.8 yards per carry and clearly didn't have the same burst or elusiveness as Johnson. The Hurricanes aren't at BCS bowl level like FSU or Clemson, but they've made steady progress under Al Golden. Next year's ACC Coastal Division has the potential to be just as wild as it was in 2013, and even without quarterback Stephen Morris, who used up his eligibility, Miami has as good a chance as any, particularly if Johnson can get back to his former self.

It's not a big deal that he's missing spring practice. He's experienced in the system and his rehab takes precedence. But there's no guarantee he'll come back as the same player, either, so his health is worth monitoring.

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