Maryland nose tackle Rob Armstrong, unhappy to be working with the third team, did not attend Thursday's intrasquad scrimmage or yesterday's practice, leaving his future with the team unclear.

The 6-foot-4, 307-pound junior played in all 11 games last season, starting twice and recording 16 tackles. He was expected to challenge for the starting job this season, but rarely practiced during preseason camp because of back pain and had been working with the scout team this week. In his absence, Maryland had already shuffled its defensive line, moving Conrad Bolston to nose tackle and Jack Griffin to defensive tackle and promoting freshman Jeremy Navarre to the starting defensive end position.

Armstrong was not listed on the two-deep depth chart the team released yesterday, and Coach Ralph Friedgen said he planned to meet with Armstrong's parents today.

"I don't know if he's going to play or not," Friedgen said. "I don't know what his deal is."

Armstrong's mother, Kathy, said her son has received several cortisone shots for his back this summer and feels like he's already proved his value to the team.

"He's given his heart and soul to Maryland, and he wants to play this year," she said. "It's very hard for him, what he's going through right now."

In other news, junior walk-on Dan Ennis was named the starting place kicker for next Saturday's opener against Navy. Ennis was locked in a nearly even competition with Obi Egekeze, but Egekeze suffered an injury to his right (kicking) thigh in Thursday's closed scrimmage and was not listed on the two-deep depth chart.

Friedgen said Ennis had been slightly ahead of Egekeze but that the competition would reopen when Egekeze returns to health. Egekeze was expected to handle kickoffs; instead, that duty likely will be handled by sophomore Chris Roberts.

Friedgen said senior tailback Mario Merrills will start against Navy, although Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore are also expected to play in the backfield.

Ryan McDonald, who graduated last year but was persuaded by Maryland's coaches to return for his final season of eligibility, will be the starting center, Friedgen said. McDonald has never started a game at Maryland.

Terrapins Notes: With Sam Hollenbach and Joel Statham continuing to hold the top two quarterbacking positions, Friedgen said the coaching staff would try to preserve a year of eligibility for sophomore Jordan Steffy, who played in six games last season but fell behind the other quarterbacks when he missed spring practice because of injury.

Still, "If I need him, I'm going to play him," Friedgen said. "I've already talked to Jordan about that, and he understands." . . .

Wide receivers Derrick Fenner and Danny Melendez, who were injured in Thursday's scrimmage, returned to practice yesterday.