Injuries playing part during bowl preparation

Nebraska will have four days off from regular practices this week, but they went inside Hawks Championship Center for the final regular practice until Friday. The countdown continues as Nebraska prepares for their January 1st contest against Auburn in the 2007 Cotton Bowl.

The topic always comes up when you look at the time between the end of the regular season and that of the bowl game you attend. Some teams like Ohio State are waiting 59 days from their last game until they play again. The good side to that time, though, at least for the Huskers, is that players get reps who might not normally get as much. As the head coach said, it's a good time for them. "Our kids, especially our younger plays did a nice job," Head Coach Bill Callahan said of today's four hour practice. "We scrimmaged at length with our "threes" and our younger players – our freshman primarly."

"Corey Young had some hellacious hits, (Tyler) Kester did well and Thomas Lawson carried the ball quite a bit. Our young linemen, they just can't get enough reps right now, so all-in-all, it was a great day for our young players to get this type of experience in a format where we can just focus on them."

While the attention toward the younger or more inexperienced players is a priority, Coach Callahan said that certain injury situations have prompted some of those players getting a lot more additional reps than they would, even during this developmental period. "With Brandon (Jackson) being hurt with a broken hand, and, of course, with Cody's foot still being tentative, we had to practice (Thomas) Lawson today, along with Marlon and Kenny," he said. "So they got a lot of reps."

With this period of experimentation across both sides of the line, the coaches are trying players out at certain positions, to either see how those players fit in there, or to again address situations resulting from injury.

As we reported yesterday, junior lineman Jordan Picou was moved to defensive tackle, and following practice today, Coach Callahan said that junior offensive lineman Victory Haines was moved to center. In addition to that, junior tight end J.B. Phillips is being tried out once again at the fullback position, serving more of an "H-back" roll. The move is an attempt to try and address future concerns, but a current one, because one of the fullbacks can't play. "Matt Senske has undergone back surgery, so we have lost Matt for the year," Callahan said of his junior fullback. "(And) We lose Dane Todd a year from now, so that is a position of concern."

One other key loss for the Huskers was freshman offensive guard Jacob Hickman. Suffering what Coach Callahan said was a "grade 2" sprain of the MCL in yesterday's practice, his status for the bowl game is uncertain.

"I don't know how long he's going to be out. It differs from player to player," Callahan said. "We're hopeful that he will be ready by bowl week, by the time we play down in Dallas, but it was really unfortunate that, that occurred yesterday."

Sophomore Matt Slauson was recently moved to the right guard position where Hickman is slotted to play, and he'll compete with fellow sophomore Mike Huff for time.

Tuesday and Thursday, the players will participate in 7-on-7, where players will go through passing and conditioning. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday the team will practice, continuing the developmental practices, similar to what they have done over this weekend. The players will then not practice until the following Tuesday through Thursday, where Coach Callahan said the real concentration on Auburn will begin.

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