COLLEGE PARK - With three days of practice left before its season opener at Northern Illinois on Thursday night, the Maryland football team is still unsure about the status of senior quarterback Scott McBrien, who went through a full practice for the first time yesterday since straining his right groin muscle.
"I think he'll probably play," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "But I've told [offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe] and the rest of the staff to prepare the game plan like Orlando [Evans] is going to be the guy. Scott playing would be icing on the cake at this point."
McBrien practiced Saturday, though he didn't do any drop-backs or take snaps with the first-team offense during the team session, Friedgen said. Yesterday, McBrien worked with the first unit, but he wasn't allowed to scramble or roll out.
"It gets to the point where if he can't do some of those things, he can't play," Friedgen said. "We need him for the rest of the season, not just the first game."
McBrien was confident he would be ready.
"I'm going to play," he said. "It's important for me to be out there."
Good news on Merriman
Maryland got good news on the injury front yesterday. Linebacker Shawne Merriman went through a full practice barely a week after having knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Though Merriman limped at times, Friedgen said it didn't stop the player from getting two sacks during the team period at the end of practice.
"I'm still fighting through it a bit," Merriman said. "I'm about 80 percent right now. I'm just working on the mental aspect right now. I'm confident I can get back to be the same Shawne I was before long."
Merriman is regarded as one of the Terps' best young players, and he was expected to challenge Jamahl Cochran for a starting spot before the injury.
"I'm definitely ready for the team to rely on me," Merriman said. "I'm just trying to get better as fast as I can."
Perry targets second game
Running back Bruce Perry, originally expected to be out six weeks with a high ankle sprain, has been jogging around the practice field lately, fueling speculation that he could return in time for the opener.
Perry, however, says that the injury will definitely keep him sidelined for the Northern Illinois game, and that he is targeting the Terps' second game, at Florida State, for his possible return.
"I'm hoping by next Monday I'll be ready to practice," Perry said. "I was just working on some lateral stuff today. It was an unfortunate thing that happened, but it's something you have to deal with. Hopefully, I'll be back soon."
Friedgen said Ed Tyler, who was battling with Akil Patterson to start at right guard in place of Lamar Bryant, will miss at least the first game with a leg injury. Friedgen said Tyler got a bruise on his shin about two weeks ago and the blood started to pool around the injury. It got infected, began to swell and had to be drained last week. Matt Powell will back up Patterson in Tyler's place. ... Steve Suter (hamstring) will definitely miss the opener. Either Rich Parson or Jo Jo Walker will return punts until he returns. Suter returned four punts for touchdowns last season.