Injured Cards welcome bye-week

Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said Monday that this week's bye should do wonders for his banged up Cardinals. In fact, Petrino sounded hopeful that three starters who missed Saturday's 46-22 win over Cincinnati will return for next Thursday's ESPN showdown against Pittsburgh. Will star wide receiver Mario Urruita be one of them?

This week's bye couldn't have come at a better time for the Louisville Cardinals (5-2, 1-2).

Coming off their first Big East Conference victory over the weekend against Cincinnati, the Cardinals now get the week off to prepare for next Thursday's ESPN showdown against Tyler Palko and the much improved Pittsburgh Panthers.

"I think we need it," Petrino said of the week off. "I like the fact that we have a bye-week right now."

Perhaps the main reason Petrino welcomes the down time is that he's got several key players recovering from injuries. Starters Abe Brown, Kolby Smith, Broderick Clark and Mario Urrutia did not play in U of L's 46-22 win over the Bearcats last Saturday and the extra time between games figures to give most of those players enough time to get back on the field against the Panthers.

"Abe Brown I believe will be back," Petrino said Monday during his weekly press conference. "He's coming off a knee injury that if we were playing this Saturday I think his (return) would be up in the air. But I think he'll be ready for (Pittsburgh)."

Petrino said he also expects to get both Smith and Clark back, too.

"I believe Kolby Smith and Broderick Clark will be ready to go, assuming that nothing happens during practice," he said.

Running back Kolby Smith will
probably return against Pittsburgh.

Both players suffered knee injuries, and Clark was set to return two weeks ago against West Virginia, but re-injured his knee two days before that game and hasn't returned since.

"He didn't do any more damage to it, he just shook it up during practice and it swelled up on him," Petrino said.

And while Petrino expects to have Brown, Smith and Clark back next week, it doesn't appear that 6-foot-6 star freshman wide receiver Mario Urrutia will be ready to return in time to face Pittsburgh.

"I would think just those three guys will be ready to go," Petrino said. "I don't think Mario will be ready just yet."

Urrutia is recovering from a knee injury suffered late in the 46-44 triple overtime loss at West Virginia.

"It's hard to come off that injury for a receiver because they do so much cutting and full speed change of direction," explained Petrino. "Lamar Myles had a very similar injury early in the year and it's a lot easier for a linebacker to come back from that injury."

Petrino said Urrutia's recovery time will likely be 3 or 4 weeks total.

"Three to four weeks is what they told me initially and it will just be three weeks at the Pittsburgh game," he said. "He's working real hard and feels good. He's been out running on it straight ahead. The biggest thing for him is to be able to change directions."

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