Southern Miss

USM's Richard out of 1st practice with knee injury

Southern Miss sophomore running back Jalen Richard did not take part in Friday's first practice of fall camp after having surgery for an undisclosed knee injury.

First-year USM head coach Todd Monken, who typically avoids discussion on player injuries, briefly talked about the hobbled Richard Friday.

“He had a little procedure on his knee,” Monken said. “We'll have him when we have him.”

Richard was expected to play a big part of the USM backfield after finishing second on the team in rushing in 2012 with 426 yards and four touchdowns on 87 carries.

Richard's injury opens up the possibility of true freshman George Payne getting playing time this season.

“Payne could actually help out a whole lot with Jalen down,” senior running back Jeremy Hester said. “He takes just as many reps as we do. It's not like he's being held back because he's a freshman. If he gets in early and learns the system early, maybe he can contribute this fall. He's doing good as a freshman. This is his first time doing it. He picked up the system pretty quick.”

The Golden Eagles return three other running backs who have earned significant playing time – Jeremy Hester, Kendrick Hardy and Tyre Bracken.