Blue Working Back

Inside Carolina
Posted Aug 23, 2013

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – A.J. Blue entered training camp atop the depth chart at running back alongside Romar Morris three weeks ago. However, due to a nagging hamstring that's limited the fifth-year senior's reps, Blue is only now regaining his form a week before the season opener.

"I don't know if he's 100 percent today, but I don't think there's any doubt he's going to be 100 percent by the 29th,” UNC head coach Larry Fedora said on Wednesday. “The way the coaches are bringing him along he'll be fine."

Blue suffered the injury during the opening days of camp and was sidelined until Aug. 14.

While Romar Morris received the bulk of the carries with the first team for most of training camp, Blue was relegated to an exercise bike for extended periods of time.

Blue gradually worked back into position drills on a limited basis before adding team drills into the mix.

“I went all last week at three or four consecutive practices and I felt great,” Blue said. “I was in shape and I was doing everything I needed to do, so I definitely think I’m in game shape.”

Blue returned completely on Wednesday, taking all of the reps at running back with the first team offense in an effort to get him back up to speed.

“I’m just trying to condition my body,” Blue said. “I know the plays like the back of my hand. You can know the plays but if you’re not going through the motions sometimes mental reps just don’t help. You’ve got to get in there physically and take the reps. Even if it’s not full speed you know where to go and you anticipate all types of things so it’s just about getting out there.”

Despite the Dallas, N.C. native’s absence on the field early in camp, he was still able to maintain his leadership role off the field.

“I’ve always been a big influence to these guys around the team,” Blue said. “I think this year I just filled into the role as the main guy. We had older guys like Kevin (Reddick) last year and, being a four-year starter, that’s a great guy to follow to learn how to do the right things on and off the field. I just think I followed right into his footsteps.”

Blue took advantage of his time watching from the sidelines by watching and coaching up his teammates.

“You get a chance to show the young guys the progressions and the reads as far as the D line and linebackers go,” Blue said. “Looking from the outside in, you definitely see a lot of things you don’t see within the game because it’s moving a lot faster. You get a chance to diagnose the defense when you’re looking from behind. I’ve definitely had a chance to coach the younger guys and also learn a lot myself.”

While Blue wasn’t able to put a percentage on his health, he confirmed Fedora’s statement in saying that he will be ready to go next Thursday night in Columbia, S.C.


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