Maclin has left ankle sprain, could play Saturday -

Maclin has left ankle sprain, could play Saturday

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Jeremy Maclin left the Missouri sideline on a cart in the fourth quarter of Saturday's opener, believing he had broken his left ankle and with a towel over his face to conceal the anguish. Not again, Maclin thought.

"I could feel a little bit of popping but that could have come from my ankle being a little swollen," Maclin said Monday. "At the time, I kind of had thoughts going through my head that something could really be wrong with it."

It was a false alarm for the All-American who set an NCAA freshman record for all-purpose yards last season after missing the 2006 season with a knee injury. He expects to be in the lineup this weekend if he can shake off a sprain.

"I want to play," Maclin said. "Nobody wants to sit out. I think I'll be ready to play at 100 percent, if not really close."

It was great news for the team, even if they could win the next two games against midlevel competition without Maclin. Missouri plays Southeast Missouri State in the home opener on Saturday and Buffalo next week.

"A sigh of relief, no doubt about it," quarterback Chase Daniel said Monday. "That's sort of scary for anyone."

An MRI exam revealed a slightly strained tendon, and coach Gary Pinkel said Maclin was probable for this week. The Tigers will know more Tuesday when Maclin -- who had a 99-yard kickoff return and 234 all-purpose yards in the opening 52-42 victory over No. 20 Illinois -- tests the ankle in practice.

Pinkel felt good about Maclin's chances even before the opener ended, after trainer Rex Sharp filled him in.

"Certainly when I got the news, without question I was feeling good," Pinkel said. "Obviously, it caused some great pain at the time."

Maclin was injured when he landed awkwardly on a route after a pass was tipped, jogging to the sideline to rest for one play. He quickly aborted a route on his next play, and soon ended up on the cart, although he returned before the end of the game toting crutches and with his foot wrapped in ice.

On Monday, Maclin said the ankle felt "a lot better" and Daniel recalled seeing Maclin in the training room with a big smile on his face.

"I expect him to play," Daniel said. "He's a competitor."

Daniel absorbed his only sack of the game on that play, scrambling for space after a second wide receiver also went down. Jared Perry had cramps.

"We looked at it on film and said this could have been a lot worse than it was," Daniel said.

Another injured player, safety William Moore, was in a walking cast on Monday with a sprained foot. Pinkel said most likely he'd be held out this week.

Missouri again moved up the timetable on wide receiver Danario Alexander, rehabbing from knee surgery. Alexander, first expected back for the Big 12 opener Oct. 4 at Nebraska, now is expected to make his debut next week.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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