LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis knew he would be operating on thin ice when three senior linebackers – all of which saw significant action in 2009 – moved on.
What The Chief was left with was the team’s leading tackler in Kelvin Sheppard. From there, game day experience was relegated to either special teams or wearing a redshirt on the sideline.
The backer outside Sheppard that impressed the most through the spring and summer was Ryan Baker, a junior slated to move into the starting spot on the weakside.
By day’s end on Friday, Chavis and the coaching staff felt the ice beginning to crack.
“Ryan Baker had a significant break in his jaw,” Miles said. “It was a pretty routine but heavy-hitting drill. Basically a glancing blow hit him in the chin. I saw the contact, but I did not think it was as significant as it was.
“I know that they are taking steps to correct it was we speak. It’s very unfortunate because he was having a great fall camp.”
With the season’s Sep. 4 kickoff in Atlanta drawing closer, Miles said the initial timetable for a return could see Baker back in the lineup as early as the Vanderbilt game in week two of the season.
“I think there is a range of time between four and six weeks,” Miles said.
The focus now turns to who will replace the void left by Baker, and Miles appears confident that – though youthful and inexperienced – the Tigers have the names in place to step forward and keep pace.
“I think really there are a number of options,” Miles said. “(Kelvin) Sheppard could play any of the three spots. There probably will be a point in time where Kelvin will step into another role. At some point the Mike backers behind Kelvin could play. Then there are other fast, agile guys on the perimeter that we could go to and keep Sheppard in his spot. I think it will kind of a combination of both.”
Redshirt freshman Lamin Barrow worked in Baker’s place during the afternoon session on Friday.