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Apr 12, 2004

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BOULDER - After taking Sunday off, the University of Colorado football team returned to the practice fields Monday afternoon with a familiar face finally donning pads in CU's eighth session of spring drills over the last 11 days.


Safety J.J. Billingsley, who has been recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery for two weeks, was back in action during the day, as the Buffs practiced for two hours with no tackling.  Billingsley, a junior from Aurora, Colo., predicted last Saturday that he might be strong enough to compete Monday.  According to his coaches, the 5-11, 185-pounder was more than accurate with his forecast.


"We got J.J. back today," said interim head coach Brian Cabral.  "That was the big news today.  He was out there flying around, and boy he flies around fast.  Gosh he looks good."


Finishing third on the team in tackles last season, Billingsley tallied 94 stuffs (69 solo), including a team second-best seven for loss.  Known as one of CU's most ferocious hitters and top tacklers, he also posted two interceptions, six third down stops and three pass deflections.  During the 2002 campaign against San Diego State, he set the school record for tackles by a freshman in one game with 15.


Since the Buffs did not have a full-go outing with tackling Monday, Cabral said he was looking forward to getting back on the field Wednesday to evaluate Billingsley even more.  Scheduled to conduct a practice with half tackling and a short scrimmage at the end, Cabral hoped Billingsley would make another big stride in his play.


In other injury news, Cabral said junior quarterback Joel Klatt is "fine" after banging his throwing hand on a helmet last Saturday.  Klatt, who finished the practice without any problem and was at full strength Monday, had Cabral noting that the knock was "just more of a scare than anything."


Junior tailback Brian Calhoun remained sidelined Monday, as Cabral said he continues to nurse a sore knee and is "day-to-day."