Bennett ditches crutches, but out for another 10 days

Countdown to Kickoff: UVA-Tennessee

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Photo: UVA Athletics

The good news about Virginia’s top pass rusher, Chico Bennett Jr., is that he’s up and walking without a crutch at the Cavaliers training camp. The bad news is that he can’t practice for another 10 days, taking him right up to the edge of UVA’s season opener against Tennessee in Nashville.

“So I know he’s got 10 days where he can’t do anything, and then it’ll all progress as his knee stops swelling and he can get himself ready to play,” Virginia coach Tony Elliott said after Monday’s practice. “I don’t have a timeline in particular, but I know after 10 days I’ll be able to tell you better because we’ll be able to turn him loose and see where he’s at.”

Bennett, who had 7.0 sacks last year to lead the team (the most by a UVA player since Jordan Mack’s 7.5 sacks in 2019), has been sidelined since UVA’s first intrasquad scrimmage on Aug. 12, when he took a knee to rest and had the knee tighten on him when he stood up. He had been walking on crutches, but has since undergone arthroscopic surgery to clear up the issue.

“There was some bone fragments that had been broken off at some point throughout the course of his growth and they just got lodged in the perfect position to cause swelling in the knee,” Elliott said. “Now he’s out here walking around with no crutches. He couldn’t even bend his knee prior to surgery.”

In Bennett’s absence at defensive end, sixth-year Paul Akere and fifth-year Ben Smiley III have been working in his spot.