COLUMBIA -- Preseason camp didn't exactly begin ideally for South Carolina and new offensive line coach Shawn Elliott.
But, really, things aren't all that dire for tackle Jarriel King and guard Rokevious Watkins, the pair of linemen sidelined for the Gamecocks' first practice Tuesday.
Somehow, King managed to tweak a hamstring Monday during a conditioning drill. Watkins came down with a stomach bug in the past couple of days.
Watkins, a junior from the Atlanta area, could return as early as today. King, the senior from North Charleston, could be back by the weekend. Coach Steve Spurrier classified the injury as mild.
Elliott shrugged off the fact he was missing King, who is expected to be a starter at left tackle, and Watkins, who could battle for a starting spot at some point.
"If I can get five to play, I'll be OK," he said. "I don't need to get 14 ready."
Junior Kyle Nunn filled in for King at first-team left tackle. Nunn played most of the latter part of the 2009 season, when King had tailed off following a concussion.
To Nunn's right, West Ashley product Garrett Chisolm ran with the first team at left guard. Chisolm transferred and walked on last year, emerging as a physical force even though he didn't have the playbook down.
Sophomore T.J. Johnson, moving from guard, was the starter at center. Junior Terrence Campbell, who has battled injuries, was the first-team right guard. Senior Hutch Eckerson was the first-team right tackle.
The second team Tuesday was also worth noting, mainly because it included three freshmen in their first practices with the team.
A.J. Cann, Ronald Patrick and Tramell Williams were all part of the second-team line because of the injuries. (Tackle Quintin Richardson, too, is out for the year after having shoulder surgery.)
"That's because we had to," Elliott said, referring to the immediate appearance of the freshmen. "If they've got to play, they've got to play. But they're going to learn how to play."
The only other key absence from Tuesday's practice was sophomore All-SEC receiver Alshon Jeffery, who will miss a day or two after having a wisdom tooth removed this week. Spurrier said Jeffery could be back as early as this evening.
As far as the tone of the first practice, in general, Spurrier didn't like a lot of the plays he saw. But he immediately made note of the team's attitude and enthusiasm -- those things he liked.
The highlight of the first practice was a 25-yard wheel-route throw from junior Stephen Garcia to freshman running back Marcus Lattimore.
Lattimore, the highly considered Byrnes product, showed his speed to get out of the backfield and upfield to make a catch on a beautifully thrown ball from Garcia.
It dropped from the sky and into Lattimore's arms, a yard or two clear of the defender. Lattimore would have scored, had it not come in an informal skeleton drill.
The play worked to offset the fact that Garcia had already thrown two interceptions during the 7-on-7 period, including a particularly poor one on an underthrown deep ball.
Lattimore, noted already by position coach Jay Graham as highly versatile, saw as much work with the first team as anyone else. He saw the workload increase even more when returning starter Kenny Miles had some cramping issues.
Another freshman, Ace Sanders, also turned some heads Tuesday night. He made a couple of nice catches, showing why some think he could give the offense an immediate spark.
South Carolina returns to the practice field today for another 7:30 p.m. workout. It is open to the public. Practices, all of them in the evening, will be open through Saturday.
Spurrier said the team might go to morning practices next week, with hot weather and afternoon thunderstorms expected.
Gilmore on Thorpe list
--USC sophomore cornerback Stephon Gilmore was named to the preseason watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation's top defensive back. He earned Freshman All-America honors last season after starting every game at cornerback.
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