GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As Florida coach Jim McElwain rarely provides specifics when it comes to player injuries, such matters are often left up to interpretation.
And so as he talked last week about redshirt senior Bryan Cox Jr.’s determination and his expectation that the defensive end would at least try to give it everything he had, even if he couldn’t take on his usual share of snaps, it sure sounded like the veteran starter was dealing with something significant that could linger for an extended stretch of time.
As Cox spoke to reporters Tuesday, though, he indicated that he “just had a little tweaked ankle — nothing major.”
“I mean, it did hurt pretty bad. I had an ankle (injury) and a little bit of tendinitis in my knee that were on the same leg, so it kind of made it a little bit hard, but I’m good now,” he said after practice.
That’s good news for a Gators defensive line that is expected to again be down two starters with senior nose tackle Joey Ivie (thumb) and redshirt junior defensive end Jordan Sherit (knee scope) still working their way back from injuries.
Cox, who came off the bench for the first time this fall in Florida’s win over Vanderbilt because of those ailments, has 14 total tackles, 2 tackles for losses, 4 quarterback hurries and a forced fumble through five games.
More to the point, he’s the most veteran member of the defensive line, having made 27 career starts the last two-plus seasons.
So yeah, he admitted, being in a limited role in that Vanderbilt game was an odd feeling for him, even if it was mostly for precautionary reasons, as he put it.
“It was pretty tough because I hadn’t not started a game in — well, I didn’t start the Michigan game in the bowl, but I don’t want to talk about that one — but I hadn’t not started a game in a long time, so it was a little weird. But I played my role,” he said.
As for his injured line mates, he gave an encouraging progress report.
“I (saw) Joey in there working when I was on my way to practice, so he’s doing real well with it, and Sherit says he feels brand new. So, that’s a good sign,” Cox said.
On Monday, McElwain had said both those guys would be out this week, but the sooner they can return the better.
The challenge in playing without those key cogs — who both missed their first game against Vanderbilt — is just losing some of the familiarity and “cohesiveness” of the unit, Cox said.
There’s not so much a concern about communication issues up front with new guys shuffling in, though — not with the style the Gators play.
“We do a little bit of communicating, but we’re more (of a) put our hand down and play type of D-line,” Cox said.