In what is usually a full-padded practice, the Nebraska coaches opted to go half-pads instead. "This team has always been a contact team regardless of whether you are talking about practice or games." Solich stated. "We are to that point in the season, that we want to make sure we go into this thing feeling good, nobody banged up with bumps and bruises slowing us down, so that was the object of what we got done today."
With the recent loss of middle linebacker, Chad Sievers, it's important for the staff to keep as many as they can healthy and ready to contribute. One of the biggest losses this season has been starting rush end, Chris Kelsay. While it was reported that Kelsay had a slight hamstring tear, the on-going rehabilitation has turned into a saga more than a time to get back to game shape.
That process has seemingly come to a point where it's almost ok to be optimistic about Chris's return, but nobody is saying anything definite. "It's still a situation where we will see as we get to game time, but we are encouraged about his progress. We'll hopefully have him for this game, but we'll see."
Kelsay's rehab has been a combination of things, both from himself and the doctors evaluating him. Though his process has gone on much longer than anyone anticipated, the coaches say that everything has been done according to this type of injury. "What we initially do when a guy has an injury such as he had, you generally wait until he has had some workouts with the trainer and then you start to get him to where he moves in with the team and has some workouts." Solich stated.
"His took awhile to get healed, but he's feeling very comfortable with it right now. He's been suiting up and has been doing what we have been doing in our practices and really, it's a combination of how he feels and what the doctors have been saying as to when a guy can come back."
Injuries have been as much a theme with this year's team as has been the drama that has followed them throughout the season. On the defensive side especially, coaches have had move players around and even move players into positions they weren't figured to play. "It started very early with Jason Lohr." Solich stated. "Typically, as you go through the year, you are either going to be a team that has a lot of nagging injuries, maybe a few major injuries or a team that is fortunate and is able to get by."
"We have had a share of guys that have been banged up on the defensive side of it and certainly, some of it season-ending injuries which is always a problem."
With what at least on the surface appears to be continuing problems with injuries, coach Solich didn't think that it was anything extraordinary, especially nothing like in ‘98 when NU lost 9 starters for a total of 35 games. "I don't know that we are as banged up or were lost as we did in ‘98." Solich stated. "Right now, we are not too far off from probably what most teams have in terms of injuries. It just so happens, most of them have been on the defensive side of the ball."
At the rush end position, the injury of Chris Kelsay has obviously been a blow to the overall performance of the position, but it's come to a point where Titus Adams, a defensive tackle has actually been working out at the position.
Coach Solich states though that he is hopeful for the remainder of the season, Kelsay's return and isn't lamenting over the red shirt year of Benard Thomas. "We are possibly getting Chris back and if you look at it from the standpoint that Demoine is moving around better, we have had Titus take some snaps at the rush end spot, so he is more comfortable there, we are going to be find with numbers in terms of finishing the season out unless all of a sudden we get a rash of injuries." Solich stated.
"So, it made sense at the time and still does for Benard to have redshirted. What that's going to give us is Trevor coming back who's a starter for us and of course, Benard who has the potential to be a very fine player."
The status on Chris Kelsay appears to be materializing as a game time decision, so it is possible that Husker fans could see Kelsay for the first time in almost two full months. If that's the case, Kelsay will more than likely come off the bench.
Steve Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-730-5619