Finney Receives Good News

Injured starter Eric Finney didn't tear his ACL, as previously feared, but will he be ready for the season opener?

CHAMPAIGN – Eric Finney wore sweat pants and a t-shirt Friday while the rest of the Illinois football team donned pads in practice for the first time in fall camp.

Finney couldn't participate, but the injured starting defensive back/Star received positive news from doctors after injuring his knee earlier this week.

He'll most likely miss the rest of August after minor arthroscopic surgery, but didn't tear any major ligaments.

There's a chance, Coach Tim Beckman said, Finney could return for the season opener against Southern Illinois Aug. 31.

"It's going to be close," Beckman said. "Probably going to be cutting that really close, but I think he'll keep progressing. He's on the crutches now. Hopefully by the beginning of next week, maybe Tuesday-ish he'll be off crutches."

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound sophomore injured his knee near the end of the morning session Wednesday, walking gingerly before leaving the field on a cart. Given that Finney missed last season at the College of the Canyons with a knee injury, the initial worry was that he could be sidelined once again longterm.

But Beckman said Finney remained in high spirits while waiting on the verdict. He watched practice Friday sitting on a bench in the shade, paying close attention to the action he was missing out on.

"That's how we told him, anytime we have an injury I tell the kids to think positive about it," Beckman said. "We never give you the negative news until we know for sure."

Redshirt freshman B.J. Bello filled the Star position with the No. 1 defense for the second consecutive day, with linebacker Mike Svetina manning the backup role.

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