Bloomington, Ind. – As Indiana prepares for the start of one of the program's most highly-anticipated football seasons in years, they'll do so at virtually full strength.
IU Coach Bill Lynch said that three marquee players who missed portions of fall camp – defensive tackle Greg Brown and wide receivers James Bailey and James Hardy – have all returned to the practice field and are expected to play in Saturday's 8 p.m. opener against Indiana State. In addition, second-string tight end Troy Wagner is also back practicing with the team.
Hardy had been out with a broken finger since Aug. 13 with a broken left ring finger, while Brown went down the same day with a shoulder injury. Bailey, meanwhile, injured his left elbow a week ago when he hit it on a teammate's helmet, and an ankle sprain had kept Wagner sidelined for the majority of camp.
But all four are back on the field and expected to play Saturday. In addition, starting slot receivers Andrew Means (hip) and Ray Fisher (hamstring) are also back as well after nursing minor ailments for the last ten days.
"I think we got through it relatively healthy, which is always s concern in this sport," Lynch said.
Lynch said Hardy, Bailey and Brown have actually been back on the practice field since last Thursday. After closing fall camp last Wednesday the level of contact hasn't been as intense as it was during the final week of camp, So the trio will be put to the test more during Tuesday evening's practice.
"Hardy has been itching to go since a couple of days after he got hurt," Lynch said. "We tried to use good sense because he didn't need to re-hit it."
When Brown and Bailey went down with their injuries, they initially appeared as if they could be significant. Brown had his arm in a sling for more than a week to protect his shoulder, while Bailey was wearing a flexible cast on his left arm during a scrimmage a week ago. But both have recovered quickly and appear ready to go.
"Bailey seems to be in great shape, He's running and catching, and Brown is the same way," Lynch said.
Their return is a welcomed sight to Lynch and his staff, who certainly wanted to make sure they got through camp as injury-free as possible. While a couple of key players did miss some practice time, everyone of significance is now healthy.
"You want to have your players on the field on game day," Lynch said. "Barring some injuries this week, I think we're in good shape that way."
Quartet of Hoosiers Return to Practice Field
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