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LSU RB Leonard Fournette returns to limited practice after ankle injury

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Nine days after injuring his ankle in a preseason scrimmage, Leonard Fournette returned to LSU practice on Thursday.

The Heisman Trophy contender, who led all FBS running backs with an average of 162.8 rushing yards per game last season, practiced in pads in a limited capacity as the Tigers approach their Sept. 3 opener against Wisconsin.

"It was like he wasn't gone," LSU offensive lineman Josh Boutte said after Thursday's practice. "If anything, he's probably faster because he had a little break off his feet."

LSU coach Les Miles did not speak to reporters after practice and Fournette has not spoken with local media at all in August. However, the guys who block for him had plenty to say about the running back's return.

"Leonard looked like Leonard: fast, quick. He looked fine to me," center Ethan Pocic said. "Obviously I'm not Leonard, but his burst -- when he sticks that foot in the ground and gets vertical -- looked the same to me."

The All-SEC junior's ankle injury suffered in last Tuesday's scrimmage had been a point of concern among LSU fans for more than a week. Miles said after a scrimmage earlier this week that Fournette had resumed running and predicted that he would be back on Thursday -- and indeed he was.

While Derrius Guice, Darrel Williams and Nick Brossette had served as capable fill-ins while Fournette was away, his presence is required as the Tigers make their final preparations for next Saturday's opener at the Green Bay Packers' Lambeau Field.

"We were pretty good even though he was out, but having him back is great," Boutte said. "We're just kind of starting to push forward to game week and focusing on the plays we're going to be running. We're just kind of getting a feel for it and getting real comfortable with the plays."