Jard Work: Miller's Return To Health

As Big Ten play kicks off, BuckeyeSports.com staff writer Adam Jardy cleans out his notebook before Ohio State takes on Illinois. In this edition of "Jard Work," get updates on Andy Miller (pictured), Andrew Sweat, Johnathan Hankins, Martez Wilson, Denard Robinson and more.

When junior Mike Adams left Saturday's victory against Eastern Michigan with a shoulder injury, Ohio State had a capable backup ready to go.

For the first time this season, Andy Miller became a member of the first-team offensive line. He only had a handful of plays before Adams returned to action, but the fifth-year senior pronounced himself fully healthy after the contest. Since the 2009 season ended, Miller and Adams have been battling each other for that starting left tackle spot but Adams emerged the winner.

Along the way, Miller missed out on reps during camp because his left elbow was unable to take the pounding that came with two-a-day practices.

"My elbow is doing well," he said following the game. "It's something that I needed to just during camp there towards the end it ended up being a situation where there was just too much contact and it became a fatigue thing where I started to lose some strength there. I seem to have it controlled."

Since easing back a bit, Miller said the elbow has responded the way he had hoped.

During practice, Miller said he wears a protective brace but does not have to do so during games. He brings it just in case, however.

Although the competition continued into camp, Adams was widely expected to win the job after having trimmed down and also shaking off an injury. Last season, Miller started the first three games at left tackle before a nasty bout with both the flu and a virus that conspired to strip him of nearly 30 pounds.

He would return after missing three games, but he never was able to reclaim his lost spot. Now a senior, Miller was fighting Adams for his final chance to crack the starting lineup. The elbow injury is just the latest setback for the former tight end.

"It's been a (strange) situation since I've been here," Miller said. "I've never just sat at the starting spot or I've never been at the two spot and wasn't considered for the one spot. It's been a really competitive, complex thing from the time I've been a sophomore but I enjoy it."

The New(est) Starter – When sophomore C.J. Barnett was lost for the season with an ACL injury, sophomore Orhian Johnson stepped into the vacated starting spot.

Although fans have wondered what Johnson brings to the table, senior safety Jermale Hines said the Buckeyes have seen the former prep quarterback can do – and in evaluating him have placed him in some elite company.

"He's a crazy athlete, probably the most athletic on the team besides (Terrelle Pryor)," Hines said. "He's coming along and getting the wrinkles out. He's still learning little things from when he was out that we put in, new things he's learning. He's going to be very good back there."

After missing the first game of the season with a calf injury, Johnson has recorded seven tackles and forced a fumble.

The Perfect Time – Each of OSU's first four games of the season have had a different start time. Saturday's contest will add a new wrinkle to the equation as it will kick off at noon Eastern time but 11 a.m. locally.

Previous start times this season have been 7:30, 3:40, noon and 3:30, respectively. Junior wide receiver DeVier Posey said he has a preference when it comes to starting games.

"I love playing at night but I really hate just sitting around all day," he said. "My perfect time in a perfect world is 3:30. It's not too early of a wakeup but once you're up you get going and you're right to it. Your muscles are awake and everything."

Wilson Back – Buckeye fans remember Martez Wilson as a five-star recruit who got away. Illinois fans know him as their team's starting middle linebacker.

Either way, the 6-4, 250-pound alumnus of Chicago Simeon is surely glad to be back on the field after a herniated disc in his neck forced him to miss all but one game and take a medical redshirt last season.

Asked what he has seen out of Wilson this season, OSU senior running back Brandon Saine said, "Just watching the little bit we watched today you can tell he's eager to be back out on the field. I was talking to my coach and he might be playing a little more tentative, but I feel like nobody plays tentative against us."

Big Hit – Junior linebacker Andrew Sweat apparently absorbed one horrendous hit against Eastern Michigan.

Two weeks after suffering what is believed to have been a concussion that kept him from playing Sept. 18 against Ohio, Sweat was again being checked out on the sidelines.

"Sweat got his helmet messed up on that one play," head coach Jim Tressel said after the game. "That's why it looked like he was looking through his ear hole, but I think he's fine as far as I know."

Wednesday night, co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell said the trainers were extra cautious in dealing with Sweat given his recent history.

"He had a little ding but nothing that was abnormal," the coach said. "They were just a little cautious with him and took a while to fix his helmet because he had bent his facemask. That's why they held him a little bit. They hadn't seen a facemask get completely damaged the way it was at that time."

Fickell said the helmet was damaged in a collision with a fellow Buckeye.

Robinson Impressing Pryor – Last season, Pryor suffered a knee injury on a play that ended along the sideline and did not require a lot of contact. Last week, Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson suffered a knee injury that is not believed to be serious but one that knocked him out of his team's victory against Bowling Green.

Pryor said he saw the play and was glad to hear that Robinson is expected to be fine.

"The same thing happened to me," he said. "Hopefully he recovers very soon and hopefully he doesn't have a lot of pain and hopefully he's back on that field this weekend. He's electrifying. That's the word I come up with when you bring up Denard Robinson."

Big Hank – Listed at 6-2, 270 pounds, sophomore defensive lineman John Simon is one of the most physically intimidating members of the roster. When he is walking to class, however, he said he does not notice people diving out of his way.

It might be a different case for freshman defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, who is listed at 6-3, 335.

"I would think they would have to (get out of his way)," Simon said of Hankins. "He's going to take up the whole path. And he moves very well for how heavy he is. He's been playing real great for us and that's why he's so great on the field."

Fickell said the coaches are pleased with Hankins' play so far. A full-fledged member of the second-team defensive line, Hankins has four tackles including a sack this season.

"He's averaging about 20 plays a game," he said. "You hope by the time that Big Ten season starts that those guys aren't like freshmen anymore."


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