GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Jim McElwain didn’t provide a definitive status update for injured receivers Tyrie Cleveland and Kadarius Toney on Monday, but fellow Gators’ pass catcher Brandon Powell expects that both will be back this week.
Both Cleveland (high-ankle sprain) and Toney (separated shoulder) were active at the beginning portion of practice Tuesday that was open to reporters. And Cleveland, who missed most of the last two games, was in with the first-team offense during the early “fastball” period.
“He’s back to his normal self. It’s just an ankle sprain so he needed some time off, he got the bye week, so now he’s back to his old self,” Powell said.
As for Toney, Powell said: “He’s back to himself. He’s out there on the field, you see him. I mean if y’all was out there at the beginning of practice, he’s back running around, back, you know, doing different things. So I mean, it’s good to have him back.”
That would be a big boost for the Gators to have both players back Saturday against rival Georgia as the passing attack has looked even more limited than usual without them.
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Florida produced just 108 passing yards against LSU without Cleveland and 135 against Texas A&M as Toney sat and Cleveland played limited snaps without making a catch.
Despite the missed time, Cleveland still leads the Gators with 326 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns, which is more than twice as many as any other target. Without him, no Florida receiver has totaled more than 37 receiving yards in either of the last two games.
“He’s back ready to work and he’s been going 100 percent so he’s happy to get back,” Powell said.
Toney, meanwhile, has 11 catches for 107 yards and has rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown out of the wildcat.
He’s proven to be a big-play threat anytime he touches the ball, which was an element the Gators were clearly missing against the Aggies.
“I mean, we never really lost faith in our group. We’ve got playmakers everywhere. Just to have another one of our playmakers back just makes us that much better,” Powell said. “So I mean, we got our players back and we’re just ready to go.”
Powell doesn’t have to say it. This Florida offense was even more one-dimensional without its only established deep threat and it’s do-everything freshman playmaker, and if they are both indeed able to contribute Saturday that makes a difference for the Gators.
McElwain will make an official comment on the status of Cleveland and Toney when he meets with reporters Wednesday after practice, but the report from Powell is encouraging.
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