Walters Back From Injury

Ryan Walters is one of the most physical players on the Colorado defense. But he hadn't been able to hit anyone since the end of spring until last Friday's scrimmage. Walters tweaked a hamstring injury the practice before the team wore full pads this August and had not participated until the Aug. 25 scrum. He's back now.

Obviously, it felt good for Ryan Walters to get back to action.

"It was the first time I tackled anybody since spring ball," he said. "It was good."

The third-year sophomore free safety impressed secondary coach Greg Brown in the spring and was atop the depth chart entering August camp. Missing nearly two full weeks of practice was challenging for Walters. But after Walters had injured the same hamstring twice in the summer, then strained it again the first week of camp, the prudent thing to do was to have patience.

"It's frustrating, but Coach Brown told me, ‘I don't want you rushing it. I don't want it to be a recurring injury during the season,'" Walters said. "I just had to step back and look at the bigger picture, be patient and work hard. I kept my mind in the playbook and encouraged my teammates."

If there's a blessing in disguise about Walters injury — as far as the team is concerned — it's that it gave sophomore Ben Burney the opportunity to develop at free safety. Walters was Burney's No. 1 fan the past two weeks.

"When I got hurt, I told him, ‘This is your chance. Make the most of this opportunity,'" Walters said. "Even though we're competing for the same spot, we're still a team. Whatever's best for the team, I'm fine with.

"He's done a fantastic job," Walters added.

Brown said Burney, who played mostly at cornerback last year and in the spring, has grown the past several practices.

"He's taken advantage of it," Brown said. "He's stepped up and gotten all those reps as the first team free safety (while Walters was out). He has done a tremendous job."

Brown added he was glad to have Walters back in the lineup in the scrimmage, and the practices since.

"He needed to do that in order to play against Montana State," Brown said. "He needed to prove that he could go out there and cut loose and run somebody down."

Walters said he played with both the first- and second-string defense in Friday's scrimmage.

Burney and Walters are listed a co-No. 1 at free safety currently, and it's likely both will see action Saturday in the opener.

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