GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Sophomore safety Chauncey Gardner Jr. went through practice Wednesday for Florida and will be active for the Gators in their home debut against Northern Colorado, coach Jim McElwain said.
Gardner was injured during the Gators’ season-opening 33-17 loss to Michigan on Saturday and was seen with crutches and a protective walking boot afterward. McElwain had said he wanted to see what the safety was able to do Wednesday before making an announcement on his status.
“Should be good to go,” he said. “I didn’t know how much he was going to practice today until he got out there.”
While Florida is hosting an FCS opponent Saturday with its SEC opener against Tennessee looming next week, McElwain said there was no thought to holding Gardner out as a precaution once he showed he was ready to play.
“There’s no holding anybody out. Guys who are competitors want to play,” he said. “Hold (him) out? You’ve got a chance to play in The Swamp. I don’t understand this mentality of I’m going to save myself. For what? As you go through life, you only get certain opportunities. Take advantage of them and go do it.”
On a more serious note, freshman wide receiver James Robinson has been out of practice this week and McElwain said Robinson underwent an echocardiogram on his heart. He did not provide any more specific details.
“Which is not good,” McElwain said of the situation. “Obviously our specialists at Shands will handle whatever exactly that is. We’ll take every precaution to help him as we move forward.”
Meanwhile, Florida will not have starting tight end DeAndre Goolsby, who is out with an undisclosed leg injury.
“I don’t know when he’ll ever be back,” McElwain said.
Freshman tight end Kemore Gamble (foot) is expected back next week, while No. 4 quarterback Kyle Trask had a bolt put in his foot Wednesday morning, McElwain said.
As for Gardner, his availability is key for a secondary that is already leaning heavily on true freshmen.
When fifth-year senior safety Nick Washington hobbled off the field for a play Saturday with a sore shoulder, Michigan immediately targeted freshman Shawn Davis on a deep touchdown pass
Davis impressed throughout preseason camp, though, while positioning himself for an immediate role.
Florida is already leaning heavily on two other freshmen DBs as Marco Wilson and C.J. Henderson are both among the team’s top three corners, with Wilson sliding over to nickel when needed.
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