The Colorado football team's situation at cornerback got a little brighter Monday with the return of Parker Orms to full contact participation. And one of the bigger question marks of camp -- who will start at the position -- seems to be getting a little clearer as well even if coaches aren't ready to announce anything yet.
Orms, a sophomore out of Wheat Ridge High, practiced for the first time since the first day of camp 11 days earlier, rotating in with the top defensive unit on several occasions.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Orms had been out with calf cramps and swelling in the same leg on which he had knee surgery last season.
"It's my favorite thing to do, play football," said Orms, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament on the third play of the season last fall and missed spring practices. "It sucked watching camp for the first week. It kind of felt like last year a little bit, just wanting to get in there but you can't really do anything."
Orms, who was tabbed as the top nickelback last year before his injury, admitted Monday that he should have been wearing his knee brace the first day of camp when his injury occurred. While he said there's no new ligament damage, he said the training staff did worry that maybe he'd tweaked some cartilage in the knee in addition to the calf cramps.
"It's definitely not 100 percent," Orms said. "But I've got to play 100 percent. My knee is going to hurt. I've just got to play through it."
The biggest step now, Orms said, is getting back in shape.
"I know what I'm doing. I've been watching and studying my playbook. I've just got to come out here every day and just work twice as hard as the other guys because they've already got a week ahead."
Orms' return was a welcome sight for a club that is trying to find capable players at the position.
Head coach Jon Embree said after Saturday's scrimmage that sophomores Ayodeji Olatoye and Paul Vigo, senior Travis Sandersfeld and freshman Greg Henderson were probably the top four guys at the position.
Sandersfeld and Henderson seemed to get the heaviest share of reps with the top unit Monday, but Embree wasn't ready to name starters just yet.
"I think I know who our corners are going to be, so we'll see if they finish like that," he said.
Another happy return for the Buffs' defense Monday was that of defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe.
The sophomore left the field in an ambulance on Wednesday after falling on his head and neck. He was released from the hospital that afternoon but was held out of practice for a couple of days, including Saturday's scrimmage.
Embree said Uzo-Diribe had been begging to get back on the practice field since Thursday, and the player made one of the bigger stops Monday, stuffing tailback Rodney Stewart in the backfield near the goal line to help force a field goal by the offense.
"You can tell the guys that have been out," Embree said. "They're a little bit fresher, a little bit more juice in them. So it was good having him back."
The new CU coaching staff has gained a reputation for being vocal and direct with players in practice, but Embree said he tried to hold back a bit Monday during live situations.
"There were plenty of times today I probably normally would have had a little different reaction," Embree said. "But I just wanted to see if we were going to have some players saying some stuff and start taking it. We're on the sidelines on game day, so they've got to be able to learn how to lead out there on the field and get after each other in the right way when things aren't going as they should be."