October 14, 2009 8:31:00 AM
Danny P Smith -
STARKVILLE -- Jamie Jones knows how difficult a matchup sophomore tight end Marcus Green can be for opposing teams.
As a sophomore linebacker at Mississippi State, it''s often Jones'' responsibility in practice to keep an eye on what Green is doing.
Green''s ability to block and go out for a pass keeps Jones and the rest of the Bulldogs on their toes.
"You have to use a good technique because he''s so quick and fast," Jones said. "You really have to read him. You just can''t play the routes or play off of him."
After an injury-plagued freshman season, Green has shown MSU opponents what he can do this season.
Green is the second-leading receiver for MSU with 17 catches for 228 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bulldogs haven''t seen numbers like that from a tight end since the days of Donald Lee and Reginald Kelly.
MSU coach Dan Mullen said the tight end position can be a tough match-up for opposing teams and knows Green can cause problems.
"His ability to block is really what creates the mismatch because he is an athletic guy," Mullen said,. "He came out of high school as a tailback so he had the skill sets with good hands and was a good route-runner. He''s learned toughness."
Green said it took that toughness to battle back from last year''s surgery to repair an injury to the hip and groin area.
He had to rehab, get back into shape and get stronger.
Even though he has made strides, Green believes there are still improvements to be made in his game.
"I''m trying to get better each week," Green said. "(I''m still working) on endurance. When I get tired, I tend to lose a little concentration. I''m not where I want to be..
"I just want to help the team and lead like I should.. We''re just that one inch away from being where we want to be."
After not having him for the entire season last year, senior quarterback Tyson Lee is glad to have Green as someone to depend on.
"He''s been extremely big and has done a wonderful job of really working on his routes and working on his hands," Lee said. "Last year, (his hands) weren''t as good as they are now. Daily, he''s been consistently working on it and that''s showed by the way he''s been playing."
After going against him in practice, Jones has high praise for Green.
"He''s one of the best I''ve seen in this league," Jones said. "As he matures and gets better, he''s going to be a great tight end for us."
Green thanked his teammate for the compliment and said it''s going against players like Jones in practice that makes him better.
Jones and Green came to the Bulldogs together as freshman and have developed a bond on and off the field. They eat together at the cafeteria and in town.
However on the practice field, it''s all business.
"It gets real competitive and we always talk back and forth," Jones said. "He tells all of the linebackers how he''s going to block us and catch passes on us so that''s just the way he works. Off the field, we''re like a big family."
The Bulldogs went through a nearly three-hour practice in a steady drizzle Tuesday afternoon.
Mullen stressed once again that rain is something the team will have to deal with in a game sometimes so he doesn''t even consider going inside the Palmeiro Center.
"What it does is give us confidence that we can play in some bad weather," Mullen said. "We''re used to practicing in it."
Mullen said sophomore safety Wade Bonner participated in meetings Tuesday, but wasn''t able to practice after a procedure to cut out infection in his elbow.
The training staff wanted a little more time for treatment to work on Bonner.
"They wanted to do more antibiotics with him for the infection, but he said he felt great," Mullen said. "His elbow was just swollen."
Senior defensive tackle Charles Burns made an appearance at practice, but didn''t participate because of a knee injury. Mullen also said that junior kicker Sean Brauchle was nearly recovered from a strained muscle in his kicking leg.
MSU sophomore quarterback Chris Relf''s status for Saturday''s 11:30 a.m. game (ESPNU) against Middle Tennessee State is still unknown, but he''s at least practicing with the team.
Relf, who was suspended for the Houston game because of a unspecified violation of team policy, trotted out to the practice field and took part in some light throwing before stretching.
Mullen hasn''t indicated whether the suspension has been lifted on Relf or not.
"We''re going to see as it goes," Mullen said earlier this week. "We haven''t decided any of that stuff yet."