Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thumb healed, ego bruised for Heels' Yates

T.J. Yates knew what was next after he injured his thumb playing ultimate frisbee. The UNC quarterback was going to hear some jokes from his teammates at his expense.

"That's their job," Yates said.

The sprained thumb has healed and the jokes are over, for now, for Yates who jammed the thumb on his right hand (his throwing hand) trying to catch a frisbee during a UNC team activity on April 22.

Yates said after a six-week rehab, he's 100 percent and back to throwing the football and working out with his teammates. He's also doing his best to avoid any future non-football related accidents. Injuries have followed Yates at UNC. He broke a bone in his left ankle in 2008 and missed six games. He had surgery on his right shoulder following the '07 season.

Yates, who enters his third season as the Tar Heels' starting quarterback in '09, bristled at the suggestion that he is injury-prone.

"I wouldn't say that," said Yates, who threw for 1,168 yards and 11 touchdowns in '08. "I've caught some bad luck. Other than the ankle, I haven't missed any games so it hasn't affected me too much."

For the record, linebacker Kennedy Tinsley was vying for the flying disc the same time Yates was, not that Yates is blaming Tinsley or anyone else for the minor setback.

"It was a freak accident," Yates said. "I think because of the position I play, any little thing can get blow out of proportion. It was no big deal."

-- J.P. Giglio