Tailback Steve Atkins led a parade of last year's injured into the first workouts of the 1978 Maryland football season yesterday.
Seven surgical patients and various other medically troubled players took the field yesterday in hopes of a healthier season than last year, when injuries to 26 players were a reason the Terps lost their three-year hold on the Atlantic Coast Conference title.
Atkins' medical problem may have been among the most insignificant - surgery on thumb ligaments - but his healing could have one of the biggest effects on the outcome of the Terps' season, which opens Sept. 9 against Tulane.
Atkins has suffered a multitude of other ailments. He once seemed headed straight for a good showing in the Heisman Trophy balloting.
"The thumb is fine," said Atkins, who missed spring practice and is listed second in the depth chart behind George Scott. "My knees are 100 percent okay, and so are my hamstrings.
"Everyone's been asking me about them, and it bugs me to death. I don't want to hear any more about these injuries."
Maryland Coach Jerry Claiborne learned of one player who will be lost for the season - sophomore offensive lineman Les Boring, who broke his leg in a fall at home Saturday.
Four otehr players were unable to practice yesterday. The most promising of them is wingback Don Dotter, who received treatment for a blood clot in the calf he injured in a basketball game. He will be out almost three weeks.
Defensive tackle Nate Brown, who had knee surgery in the offseason, was told by team doctors not to begin practice. Freak accidents kept offensive guard Glenn Chamberlain and linebacker Darnell Dailey out of drills.
Chamberlain dropped a 270-pound weight on his face, causing swelling and bruises and a cut lip that required stitches.
"He's lucky to be alive," Claiborne said. "It could have hit him the neck."
Chamberlain said he was putting the weight back up on a support when it slipped. In a similar accident, Dailey dropped a weight on his foot and was unable to put on his shoe.
Claiborne feels success this season will depend largely upon how well the injured recover. Team trainers said they thought the team appeared to be in exceptionally good shape.
Among those returning from surgery are defensive tackle Keith Calta (knee), defensive tackle Ed Gall (shoulder), center Kyle Lorton (shoulder), defensive back Chris Ward (disk) and offensive guard Kervin Wyatt (knee).
Wyatt fits into Maryland's plans on the offensive line. He played well against Clemson in Maryland's opener last year before he sustained the injury.
Lorton also will figure in the battle to replace center Don Rhodes, and all the defensive players are considered valuable since Claiborne must replace eight of the defenders who started against Clemson a year ago.
On offense, Claiborne must find starters at quarterback, split end, center and guard. On the initial depth chart given out yesterday for the purposes of practicing, the players listed first at those positions were Tim O'Hare at quarterback, Mike Simon at center, Wyatt and Paul Glamp at guards, and Gary Ellis at end.
The starting lineup for the Tulane game will not be determined until the final scrimmage Sept. 1.