Vanderbilt's Norman could miss opener

Vanderbilt's running back stable took another hit Wednesday when sophomore Warren Norman underwent arthroscopic knee surgery, making him questionable for the Sept. 4 opener against Northwestern.

Norman, the SEC Freshman of the Year last season, had some swelling in his right knee and underwent an MRI Wednesday. Vanderbilt coach Robbie Caldwell said doctors went in and cleaned out some loose cartilage, which was causing the swelling.

The Commodores were already without sophomore running back Zac Stacy and redshirt freshman running back Wesley Tate, although both players returned to the practice field on a limited basis Wednesday. Stacy had been out for two weeks after suffering a sprained MCL, while Tate had been sidelined with a foot injury. Senior Kennard Reeves has been getting the bulk of the first-team work at running back.

Caldwell thinks Norman has a chance to be back in time for the opener, although much of that will depend on his recovery. When Stacy hurt his knee, the initial diagnosis was that he, too, might miss the opener. But his returning to the practice field on Wednesday is a good sign that he may be back sooner than first expected. It would be an added boost to get Tate back and have him available for the first game.

With all three healthy, the Commodores have a chance to be very good at running back. Stacy was off to a fast start last season as a freshman until he hurt his ankle, and Norman obviously is as important to Vanderbilt's kicking game as he is to the running game after returning three kickoffs for touchdowns last season.

Sadly, the Commodores could really use Rajaan Bennett right now. The heralded running back signee from Powder Springs, Ga., was the victim of a murder-suicide two weeks after signing with Vanderbilt this past February.