Bloomington, Ind. – The calendar read Monday, but August 13th wasn't a very lucky day for the IU football team.
That's because a handful of the biggest names on the team went down Monday, and it wasn't due to the 90-degree heat. Projected starters James Hardy, Greg Brown, Tracy Porter and Nick Sexton along with true freshman cornerback Donnell Jones, all went down with injuries.
The injuries to Hardy and Brown appear to be the most significant. Hardy suffered a broken left ring finger while attempting to catch a pass Monday morning and is expected to miss two weeks. That will keep him sidelined until the week leading up to the season opener against Indiana State.
Brown, meanwhile, suffered a left shoulder injury Monday morning, and it's unclear how long he'll be sidelined. Like Hardy, Brown was in uniform and at the IU practice fields Monday afternoon, but the 6-2, 303-pound junior was wearing a sling to protect the shoulder.
Porter's injury doesn't appear as serious. During 7-on-7 drills Monday afternoon Porter intercepted a Ben Chappell pass and appeared to jam a finger. While he missed the rest of practice, he was treated by the IU medical staff and was on the sidelines for the remainder of the session.
The nature of Sexton's injury is unclear. The Hoosiers' No. 1 tight end, Sexton wasn't at practice Monday afternoon and no details were available on the extent of his injury. Jones, meanwhile, suffered a sprained ankle and is considered day-to-day.
The injuries to Hardy and Brown came during the first of Monday's two-a-day practice sessions, one that featured full pads and live hitting. The Hoosier coaching staff has tailored this fall's practices to try to keep as many players healthy as possible by limiting the amount of live tackling, but IU Coach Bill Lynch also said you need to do tackle some in the fall to make sure the team is prepared for the season.
"The worst thing you want to do as a football team is after the opener is say we weren't in shape, and we didn't tackle well," Lynch said. "So you have to do live tackling to do it."
With Hardy and Brown sidelined Monday afternoon, Terrance Turner (wideout) and Emile Bass (defensive tackle) got opportunities to work with the No. 1 offense and No. 1 defense, respectively, for extended periods of time. Turner is a player who had a seven-catch, 157-yard, two-touchdown effort during IU's spring game in April, while Bass is expected to work in to a defensive tackle rotation that is also expected to include Brown, Joe Kremer, Keith Burrus and Kevin Burrus.
Whether it was by design or because of the rash of injuries that hit the team Monday, the Hoosiers wrapped up Monday afternoon's practice at 6:45, a full 45 minutes earlier than they normally do. It might have been Lynch's way of making sure a tough day from an injury standpoint didn't get even worse.
"It's not the tackling you worry about, but when you go live tackling, all 22 bodies are live," Lynch said Saturday. "Most of the injuries in practice it's because of pile ups or guys get rolled into. That's what you worry about, it's generally not the ball carrier getting tackled or the guy making the tackle, it's everything around it."
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