It's understandable that Ty MacArthur felt snakebitten when yet another part of his body failed him.

The Air Force receiver and kick returner was running a route during a Saturday practice early in August when he pulled his hamstring.

"It was early in the morning, I guess I should have stretched it better," MacArthur said.

This is a player who saw his sophomore season end with a broken collar bone at Boise State, and who played through pain last year before having most of the meniscus tendon taken out of his left knee in January.

His senior year brought the promise of a more exotic offense that might give him more platforms to showcase his abilities, and thus far he's watched practices while his leg recovers.

He tried to come back too soon and suffered a setback that cost him more time.

"I would have liked to have been out there with my teammates, doing the install," he said. "But obviously if it's going to happen, I'd rather have it happen now rather than during a week where I can't play in a game or something."

Coach Troy Calhoun, who values toughness in his players about as much as he values ball security, had no reason to doubt MacArthur's willingness to play through an injury after last season.

"We're going to play with guys who are healthy," Calhoun said. "If you aren't healthy then the next guy is going to play."

In past years that might have seemed a hollow threat, considering MacArthur led last year's team in receptions (24), receiving yards (411), punt returns (10 for 76 yards) and his 1,018 all-purpose yards are more than 250 more than the next best returnee.

But this team, with athletes like Garrett Brown and Sam Gagliano able to play the same position, offers more competition at skill positions.

"We've got a lot of good guys, great young guys who came in," MacArthur said. "So, no, I don't particularly like to sit on the sidelines."

So, even though he estimated he was just 80 percent, MacArthur was back in practice as the Falcons started the season's first game week Monday. He expects to be near enough to 100 percent by Saturday and he's excited to see what the Falcons offense might have in store.

Of course, there's still one person who must OK MacArthur's return.

"He's got to prove to us that he's full speed and ready to go," Calhoun said. "It's something you've got to demonstrate to your teammates, but also to yourself."