Leader Blues

Friday, August 14, 2009

SPORTS >> James’ status update a relief to Panthers

Leader sportswriter

It was probably the best grade the Cabot Panthers and standout senior fullback Michael James could expect.

James underwent an MRI on Tuesday after suffering a shoulder injury during the Panthers’ first full-contact practice the previous week.

After the injury, coach Mike Malham said the worst case would be having James out for up to six weeks. But the test result showed James had a slight shoulder separation and he should be available for the opener against Jacksonville on Sept. 1.

“So two, three weeks he should be in good shape,” Malham said. “He should be ready to go when the season starts.”

James gained 1,261 yards and scored 20 touchdowns on 272 carries last season and was expected to again get the majority of the touches in Cabot’s Dead T. Additionally, Malham was planning to use James on defense as one of the linebackers in the Panthers’ 5-2 set.

For those reasons and more, Malham was glad to see that James’ injury wasn’t serious.

“Oh yeah, he’s a three-year starter,” Malham said. “You lose a three-year starter it doesn’t matter who you play, you don’t have the experience.”

James and senior linebacker Spencer Neumann swapped sides for most of spring practice, with Neumann getting reps at halfback and James playing linebacker to refresh himself at the position he hadn’t played since junior high.

If James couldn’t be available, Malham was going to slide Neumann into the fullback spot. It looks like that won’t be necessary now, and Malham is still planning to play James at linebacker.

But after the injury he is going to proceed with some caution.

“We’re still planning to use him on defense,” Malham said. “We’ve got to kind of feel our way and see how it goes.”