The Seminoles, for the most part, should be in good health for their season-opener Saturday against Iowa State in the Eddie Robinson Classic in Kansas City. Only defensive tackle Jeff Womble has been ruled out due to injury (knee sprain). However, Womble would not have made the trip anyway - he was suspended for one game due to violating a team rule.
Randy Oravetz, the program's director of sports medicine, is hopeful junior receiver Anquan Boldin (left knee sprain) will be cleared. Boldin suffered a Grade-1 MCL sprain during the Seminoles' initial preseason scrimmage a week from Saturday. Also, starting tackle Brett Williams (right shoulder sprain) will be held out of contact drills this week and is expected to start. Williams returned to drills last Thursday after being injured the night before in the team's second preseason scrimmage.
"If Anquan continues to make progress, working his way up the ladder as we say, he's going to play," Oravetz said Sunday morning. "If he keeps making those steps. But if something were to happen, and he twisted it or tweaked it again, and it got a little sore or swollen .... but he's getting his strength back. He's running fine straight ahead and doing all the things that you want, so he looks good at this time."
FSU also has injury concerns along the defensive line and secondary, but Oravetz remains optimistic. Additionally, senior receiver Robert Morgan, who practiced just once a day as he continued his recovery from reconstructive knee surgery that sidelined him last season, is rounding into form.
A year ago at this time, FSU had lost Boldin (knee), Morgan (knee), Willie Reid (broken leg) and Otis Duhart (knee) to season-ending injuries.
"Again, we've been relatively lucky in the sense that we haven't had any season-ending injuries," Oravetz said.
"We did have the two (medical disqualifications) with (James) Buchanan (shoulder) and Blake (Williams), which we kind of knew going into (the preseason). We've had a lot soft tissue injuries, a lot of ankles, some shoulders, knee sprain - Anquan (Boldin) hurt his MCL. Anquan and Robert (Morgan) have done very well. I think both have a chance to play in this game (against Iowa State). Anquan is coming back very nicely, and Robert is doing very well."
Injuries have muddled the secondary.
Rovers Claudius Osei (hamstring) and Jerome Carter (cervical burners) have each been slowed, pushing Patrick Newton into the starter's role for last Friday's scrimmage. Oravetz said Osei and Carter should be fine this week.
Starting safety Kyler Hall suffered a broken hand that required surgery. Once back, Hall then rolled an ankle. Backup B.J. Ward has improved despite playing with a separated shoulder. At corner, Stanford Samuels was held out of contact last week after suffering a concussion. Backups Leroy Smith (ankle) and Bryant McFadden (broken hand) also have played with hurts.
Along the line, Oravetz said Darnell Dockett(pictured) (Achilles tendon surgery) and Travis Johnson (aggravated surgically repaired ankle) " both have responded well and both will play in the game." He also said linebacker Kendyll Pope, who missed the Virginia Tech game and spring drills following neck and shoulder injuries, hasn't had any problems. Additionally, middle linebacker Jerel Hudson is fine after suffering a mild ankle sprain last week.
Oravetz said Womble, who suffered a Grade-2 knee sprain in last Wednesday's scrimmage, should be fitted into a walking brace and start his rehabilitation this week. Womble's return remains unclear, though there is a chance he could be back for Virgina Aug. 31. However, the Sept. 14 game at Maryland - FSU is off Sept. 7 - is probably more likely.
"He has responded well, the swelling has gone down and we will probably get him into a walking brace this week," Oravetz said. "We then can get him into light jogging and the stationary bicycle."
On offense, true freshman receiver Lorne Sam could be out for up to two weeks with a separated right shoulder suffered in Friday's scrimmage. Fullback Torrance Washington (hip pointer) and quarterback Chris Rix (burner) also suffered minor hurts in that scrimmage but are fine. Also, reserve quarterback Adrain McPherson (ankle), receiver Craphonso Thorpe (toe -- pictured left) and second-team center David Castillo (ankle) are expected to return to practice this week.
However, nearly all of FSU's recovering injured are expected to be held out of contact.
Oravetz also believes Mother Nature cooperated in helping the Seminoles survive the preseason.
"Coming through I thought the weather was very cooperative," Oravetz said. "We had some milder weather. By practicing early and practicing late, it really took us out of the heat of the day. We had some nice hot days but not stifling hot, where you are putting your athletes at risk. I think we got them shape. They came out of the summer workouts I thought in very good shape. They ran their 16 110s and they looked as good as they ever have. That was a warm day.
"But like I said, this has been one of mildest summer two-a-days we have ever had. I was driving into work the one morning and it was 65 degrees at 6 a.m., which we never. ... a lot of times it was 75 or 80 degrees at 6 a.m., knowing it's going to be 95 or 100 degrees. The rain helped. We had some rain early on but a lot of the rain ended up going around us. We only came off the field one time because of lightning. But we had some good field conditions and got in some good work in.
"Now, like coach Bowden says, it's not over yet. We really have to work on our timing, work our teamwork, teamwork, teamwork. He knows they know how to tackle, he knows they know how to hit, he knows they know how to throw and know how to block, now all 11 guys have to do their assignments on the same play. It's a team sport and that's the thing we have to mold."