Cubit: No return timeline for Dudek, Hardee

Hardee suffers setback; Dudek still not taking passes from Illini QBs

CHAMPAIGN - Illinois needs some help at wide receiver -- the team has 26 drops through four games -- but it doesn't sound like they'll be getting any help from their talented injured list any time soon.

Illini interim head coach Bill Cubit didn't have promising updates on injured receivers Mikey Dudek or Justin Hardee at Monday's weekly press conference.

Dudek, a sophomore who earned Scout.com Freshman All-America honors last season, suffered a torn ACL during spring, and the possibility always existed that he could miss the season as he recovered.

But Hardee, a senior who initially was expected to miss just a few games after suffering a broken foot, won't return at least for a few more weeks -- if at all.

"There's still a little break in there," Cubit said. "He's out of the (walking) boot, but he's not running right now.  So, there's been a little setback there."

Will Hardee -- who has 47 career catches and was expected to be a starter -- return to the field this season?

"I don't know," Cubit said. "I know he won't play this week. Once they clear him to run around, it's going to take him about 10 days to get used to it. We're not even at that point yet."

Cubit said he had no substantial update on Dudek, who had 76 catches for 1,038 yards as a freshman, other than "he's progressing well."

Dudek has been doing lateral drills, like cutting, for more than a month. He's catching passes with team trainers but has not yet started taking reps with Illinois quarterbacks.

Cubit said he does not have a drop-dead date on when he will decide whether to play Dudek this season or redshirt him. He said his future, or non-future, as the head coach at Illinois won't play a role in his decision.

"I think it's a point where you want to do right by the player," Cubit said. "I took over a program one time and they played a player on field goal, extra point and that's all he played in his last game so he lost a whole year. That's not fair. That poor kid, he was a two-year starter for me and you wish he had him for another year but (the previous staff) threw him in there because they had someone banged up and someone wasn't paying attention on the sidelines. They messed up that poor kid. We'll just evaluate what's best for the player.

"Get 'em healthy first, and then we'll figure it all out. Then it may be that they're not healthy so you really don't have to make a decision. It's really easy. The health is the most important thing right at this point."

Cubit now may have to make redshirt decisions on both Dudek and Hardee.

"They're both good players, Mikey and Justin," Cubit said. "But there are other guys. They need to be good players too."

White to be re-evaluated Junior starting tight end Tyler White, who missed last week's 27-25 win over Middle Tennessee with a concussion, was to be evaluated on Monday. He was expeted to go through non-contact drills this week.

"Hopefully we can get him back for this weekend," Cubit said.


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