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Ras-I Dowling continues to practice, sit out on Saturdays

By Steve Yanda

For the past month, senior cornerback Ras-I Dowling has participated in practices throughout the week only to declare himself unfit to play on Saturdays. Dowling has been dealing with a lingering right knee injury that has prevented him from competing in all but three plays of Virginia's last four games combined.

A two-time second team all-ACC selection, Dowling's presence has been missed by a defense that has struggled mightily in several aspects of its responsibility. Sophomore cornerback Devin Wallace and senior Mike Parker have worked in tandem to fill the hole created by Dowling's absence, but both players have struggled in different respects to pick up the slack.

Coach Mike London has said on several occassions that he defers to Dowling and the team's medical staff to determine whether the player can compete in games. Dowling has participated in warmup drills before each of the past four games, but has seen very little of the field after the opening kickoff.

"When you're dealing with your own body and how you feel, and you're playing a skill position where you rely on back-pedalling and turning, and he's a veteran player, I rely on, 'How are you feeling today?' 'I'm feeling pretty good today,'" London said Monday. "The next day it could be a little stiff, a little sore. Game day, it could be wet out there. 'Tried it; just didn't feel right.'

"So with him, I know it's frustrating. Without getting into his personal health history and things like that, there are a lot of issues with him. Every NFL scout has come by and seen him and know about him. His junior year stands on what it is and what it was. It's frustrating that he hasn't had a senior year opportunity to do some of the same things, but his skills have not diminished. He's still a great character person. So a lot of the things they liked about him then, back then, they still like now, absent him being on the field.

"Selfishly, you'd like him on the field. But at the same time you have to understand that you're dealing with your own body, and you're dealing with your future. You're dealing with pain tolerance. So it is what it is right now with him. Hopefully, last home game, the practices that he practices and the time that he puts into it that he feels he can get out there and give us a few reps. Or more."

By Steve Yanda  | November 8, 2010; 6:24 PM ET
Categories:  Football  
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