Starting defensive end Chad Thomas returned to practice on Sunday, a source told The Post, which is a positive sign for his availability for Saturday’s game at Notre Dame (3:30 p.m., NBC).
Thomas did not travel to last Thursday’s 37-16 loss at Virginia Tech, which dropped the Hurricanes to 4-3 (1-3 ACC). He sustained what UM termed an “upper body injury” Oct. 15 against North Carolina. He also broke his right hand the week before, and was playing through that condition.
Miami is off Monday. Coach Mark Richt is scheduled to appear on UM’s flagship radio station, WQAM, in the morning. His next chat with reporters is after Tuesday’s practice.
Thomas, a 6-foot-6, 265-pound junior, leads UM in tackles for loss (8.0) and is second in sacks (3.5). He has broken up two passes. In his place last week, true freshman Joe Jackson started for the first time. Jackson leads UM in sacks (4.5) and is tied for third in tackles for loss (6.5).
* UM’s other starting defensive end, redshirt sophomore Demetrius Jackson, also missed the Virginia Tech game. Jackson is battling a knee injury. A source said senior Stan Dobard, who moved from tight end last week to provide depth in Jackson’s absence, took second-team reps at defensive end Sunday. It’s unclear if Dobard (6-4, 265) could be ready in time to play at Notre Dame, if Jackson cannot play.
* Starting safety Rayshawn Jenkins, who had to be carried off the field Thursday after an apparent right leg injury, did not practice Sunday. However, the source said Jenkins has not been ruled out for this week. Jenkins, a senior, has made a team-high 33 solo tackles and is tied with true freshman middle linebacker Shaq Quarterman for the lead in total tackles (43).