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Deon Long returns to Terps football practice after 'freaky' injury last season

FootballMaryland TerrapinsRandy Edsall

COLLEGE PARK — The last time fans saw Deon Long, the Maryland wide receiver lie sprawled on the Wake Forest turf before being driven away by ambulance for what turned out to be season-ending fractures of the tibia and fibula in his lower right leg.

It was a game that lives in Terps infamy. Fellow receiver Stefon Diggs — the team's best-known player — suffered a broken fibula in the same, excruciating 34-10 Maryland loss in the seventh game of 2013.

"It was freaky, it was real freaky," Long said of having the team's top receivers, who had combined for 66 catches, suffer similar season-ending injuries in the same game.

Five months later, Long and Diggs are back — almost.

Interviewed at spring practice Wednesday for the first time since his injuries, the 6-foot, 195-pound Long appeared in a yellow "no-contact" jersey and pronounced himself "90 percent" healthy.

"I feel good," Long said. "I'm doing some individual stuff and some team work. No contact. I guess they don't want to risk me hurting my leg again, which is smart."

Long, who is participating in 7-on-7 drills, scored a touchdown on a double-move during Wednesday's practice.

Diggs, who the team says will be made available to the media next week, is not ready for 7-on-7. Coaches hope he will be soon.

"They're right on schedule with where we want them to be," head coach Randy Edsall said. "Deon is a little bit further along right now. We'll see where Stefon is after this week."

Long and Diggs have been training partners in recent months, pushing each other.

"Lot of laughs, lot of little competitions," said Long, who transferred from Iowa Western before last season. "Who could do a 'wall sit' the longest, who could balance on the ball on one leg the longest, who could do the most reps of a hack squat? It was very helpful because on days that I was down he would pick me up. On days he was down, I would pick him up.

"Just looking to the left of me and seeing that there's somebody right next to me doing the same thing I'm doing and [he's] not complaining — so how can I complain?"

Doctors told Long he could be 100 percent in seven months. "So, probably May," he said.

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

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