COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Sixth-ranked Missouri could get two of its top playmakers, wide receiver Danario Alexander and safety William Moore, back for this week's game against Nevada.
Alexander, who reinjured his surgically-repaired left knee during spring drills in May, had been targeted to make his debut in the Big 12 opener Oct. 4 at Nebraska. Coach Gary Pinkel said Monday that Alexander's diligence put him well ahead of schedule.
"I think sometimes you don't know what you have until you've had your head thrown against the wall," Pinkel said. "I think he had his head thrown against the wall and he's walked right through it."
Alexander, a junior, said it was difficult at first to deal with the injury mentally. He tore ligaments on an end around in the Big 12 Championship game loss to Oklahoma and missed Missouri's Cotton Bowl victory over Nebraska.
He had 37 catches, an 11.3-yard average and two touchdowns last year in 10 games, also missing time with a wrist injury.
"It's been real frustrating because I worked real hard to get back from my last surgery," Alexander said. "But I guess it's just my motivation.
"My goal was to get back by Nebraska, and to get back early really helped."
He'll provide another option for an already deep receiving corps.
"It's awesome to have him back, especially when it's a receiver of his caliber," quarterback Chase Daniel said. "He's excited and jumping at the bit and it has really showed in his rehab and how hard he has worked."
Moore sprained his right foot in the 52-42 opening victory over Illinois and was in street clothes for the 52-3 home-opening victory over Southeast Missouri on Saturday. Pinkel said he and his staff generally don't let players who show a limp get on the field, so Moore's status for this week might not be cemented until later in the week.
Moore was a second-team All-American last year while tied for the NCAA lead with a school-record eight interceptions. His return would boost a pass defense ranked last in the Big 12 and 115th out of 119 teams in the nation. If the decision were left up to Moore, he would have played last week.
"We went out there last week as captains and he was in street clothes and you could see him just chomping at the bit to play," Daniel said. "He was saying to me and Rex Sharp that there's no way he can sit out next week."
Linebacker Van Alexander, also coming off a knee injury, was cleared to play last week although he didn't see action against Southeast Missouri.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)