At his weekly press luncheon, the Ohio State head football coach was subjected to a deluge of questions relating to his star tailback who goes by the moniker "Beanie." After suffering what appeared to be a serious injury to his right foot during the third quarter of the Buckeyes' season-opening victory against I-AA foe Youngstown State, the status of Wells has been looming over all things OSU-related – to the point where people have been offering Tressel unsolicited advice on the star tailback.
However, the head coach has been drawing his own conclusions from what he is hearing from the trainers and the injured player himself – and those are looking better and better as each day goes by.
Tressel did not disclose exactly what sort of injury Wells suffered during the YSU game, but he did not rule him out of the team's contest this Saturday against visiting Ohio. Furthermore, Tressel said he would not be saving Beanie to ensure that he is fully healthy for the team's prime-time showdown with USC the following week.
"I think every time, to give it to the trainers who see him every time, is that every time they see him, he seems better," Tressel said. "Now I haven't seen him that much, I happened to see him in the training room and he was saying how wonderful he feels. Now, that was a lot different than when I saw him on the field that day. He wasn't expressing how good he felt, so, yeah, there's been a big change."
That alone should come as a sigh of relief to the OSU faithful who could only look on in silent horror as Wells writhed in pain on the YSU 5-yard line. After being helped off the field and carted to the locker room, he returned during the fourth quarter to watch the rest of the game from the sidelines with his right foot in a protective boot.
In the aftermath of the YSU game, Tressel said he would have labeled Wells as "doubtful" for the game against the Bobcats (noon, ESPN). Since then, Tressel said Beanie told him Tuesday morning that he felt "great" while in the training room at around 10:30 a.m.
The key dates this week will be Wednesday and Thursday, according to Tressel. Owing to Wells' veteran status, he could miss Monday and Tuesday's practice (he did not practice Monday) and still be fine for the game if he can go the following two days.
Senior linebacker Marcus Freeman expressed confidence that his fallen teammate would be ready to go come game time.
"Knowing Beanie, he'll be out there even if he's only at 50 percent, and Beanie at 50 percent is better than most backs in the country," he said.
Wells will have the first vote as to whether or not he feels he can play, and from there the medical staff will render their opinion as well. The third vote rests with Tressel, he said.
After the YSU game, Wells said he thought he heard a pop in his foot a few plays earlier. Tressel said postgame x-rays were negative and that Beanie was due to receive an MRI. However, the head coach was coy when asked what he saw on the readout.
"I remember sitting in staff meetings occasionally where (former OSU head coach Earle Bruce) summoned the x-rays and said, ‘Let me look at that,' " Tressel said, gesturing to the former coach sitting in the audience. "I do not have that ability, so I have no idea what the MRI said. I wouldn't know an MRI if it was here."
However, Tressel said he would not describe the injury as "debilitating" although he claimed to not know exactly what it was – or how to pronounce it.
"I can't even think of the word," he said. "His foot's hurting. A lot of times you hear like ‘brachial plexus' and all this stuff. It used to be, you know, ‘My shoulder's hurting me,' now then it became a brachial plexus. I'm still back in the ‘his foot hurts' era."
Wells battled injuries throughout his sophomore season. An ankle injury slowed him early during the year, and a battered wrist that he said felt like it might fall off against Illinois hampered him late during the season.
As such, Tressel said Wells has a high pain threshold – but that will not keep him in a game if he shouldn't be playing, he said.
"Chris Wells loves to play the game," Tressel said. "When you're a big back like he is, you're going to get whacked around a lot and your wheels have a big load on them. He's a 240-pound load on those feet, so he's going to – he's passionate about playing the game, but we're also going to be smart and medically sound and understand the need for practice and all the things."
For fans that are worried about the status of Wells, his head coach offered a piece of advice.
"Tell them to worry more about (hurricanes) Gustav and Rita and those kinds of things," he said. "Beanie's going to be fine."