Few believe DE Jadeveon Clowney could miss opener

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said Monday that three of his top players, including star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, are at risk to miss the Gamecocks' season opener against North Carolina due to injury. Wide receivers Bruce Ellington and Damiere Byrd were the others.

"Damiere and Bruce tried to run this morning, and it wouldn't surprise me if they're out the first game, the way their hamstrings are coming around," Spurrier said. "So we're planning on playing, maybe without them. And right now, Clowney's got a bruised shoulder. If it doesn't come around real soon, we may play without him in the first game."

But while Spurrier's comment may have alarmed Gamecocks fans, it apparently brought a wry grin to the face of those who know Spurrier's needling ways best. It was not much of a surprise that Clowney returned to practice Tuesday after missing the last two sessions -- the consensus among beat writers with experience covering Spurrier is that the Monday comment was little more than a joke. Travis Haney, for one, covered Spurrier for four years at the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier:

But the transparency was clear to more than just Haney. The Sporting News' Matt Hayes, who covered several of Spurrier's Florida Gator teams, had a similar takeaway:

And finally, a reporter who is currently active on the South Carolina beat saw things exactly the same way:

It seems your reputation precedes you, Steve. The Gamecocks have 16 days before opening the season on a Thursday night against the Tar Heels. And something tells us Clowney will have his helmet ready.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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