LSU regained a key player Thursday, when starting cornerback Kristian Fulton practiced for the first time since he underwent season-ending ankle surgery that kept him out of the last three games of the 2018 season.

The 6-foot, 192-pound Archbishop Rummel graduate ran through individual drills in shorts, a jersey and a helmet, while the rest of the defensive backs practiced in full pads.


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Fulton was expected to miss spring practice, which concludes with the spring game on April 6. Given the timeline of Fulton's return, it's unknown, however unlikely that he will play in the scrimmage.

Fulton had become a fixture for LSU at starting corner, since his August reinstatement by the NCAA, which ended a 19-month compliance battle over his using another person's urine for a drug test.

Before Fulton's ankle got awkwardly folded while he deflected a pass in the end zone against Arkansas, some projections had Fulton as a possible NFL draft pick before his injury, and he announced in early January that he would be returning for his senior season.

Even with missing three games, Fulton finished third on the team with 10 passes defended, and he also recorded 25 tackles and an interception.

Fulton's return is welcome news for a team that has been banged up this spring, with four possible starters still out or limited due to injuries (two on offense, two on defense).

Starting defensive end Rashard Lawrence will miss the spring after undergoing offseason knee surgery, while starting inside linebacker Jacob Phillips will be witheld from contact until preseason camp.

On offense, possible starting offensive guard Chasen Hines underwent offseason knee surgery, and starting slot receiver Derrick Dillon underwent an operation, LSU coach Ed Orgeron said, that will keep him out all spring.

During Thursday's practice, there were further absences: offensive tackle Cameron Wire, offensive lineman Donavaughn Campbell, and third-team quarterback Andre Sale, who was missing for the second consecutive practice.

Running back Chris Curry, who played in four games last season with eight carries for seven yards, was also missing. In his place, returning starting wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase ran through drills with the running backs.

Chase was LSU's third-leading receiver in 2018, recording 23 catches for 313 yards and three touchdowns.

Players have often rotated positions this spring to make up for depth issues. Offensive lineman Jakori Savage has been practicing with the defensive line, and starting outside linebacker Michael Divinity practiced with the inside linebackers for the second consecutive practice.

Outside linebacker Ray Thornton was out for the second consecutive practice. Orgeron said Tuesday that the 6-foot-4, 226-pound Texas native will be "out for a while" after suffering a sprained ankle, which he described as a noncontact injury.

Freshman defensive lineman Nelson Jenkins was missing after returning to practice on Tuesday, and junior defensive end Neil Farrell was also missing.