After suffering an injury to his right foot during the team's first game of the season and then sitting out the week two contest against Ohio University, Wells returned to practice in a limited role Wednesday afternoon. "Beanie" took part in roughly 20 percent of the plays, Tressel said, and the plan was to see how sore he was moving forward.
When the Buckeyes reconvened for practice Thursday morning, the soreness was too much to allow Beanie to take part. As a result, the head coach said last year's leading rusher was doubtful to play against the Trojans.
"I'm listing him as doubtful," Tressel said. "He had more soreness this morning than we hoped for. A late-afternoon practice followed by a morning practice, we're hoping that's a little bit of the reason why."
The hope was that Wells would wake up Thursday morning and feel better than he did one day prior, but that did not materialize.
Wednesday night, offensive coordinator Jim Bollman termed Beanie at 75 percent healthy but said he was not sure if that was healthy enough to participate against the Trojans. Thursday morning, Tressel echoed that statement.
"We were hoping that he would edge up closer to 90 (percent) as opposed to 75 (percent)," he said. "We're going to play it by ear. We're hopeful, but he didn't work this morning."
The decision whether or not to play Wells will likely come down to a game-time decision, Tressel said. The key factor will be how sore his injured right foot is, and that situation will be closely monitored up until Saturday night's kickoff.
One factor that will apparently not come into consideration is the magnitude of this game. Facing No. 1 USC on the road at night on national television, the Buckeyes have a chance to restore some luster to their name after consecutive losses in the last two national championship games.
The decision will not be how much he will play, but rather if he is healthy enough to play at all, Tressel said.
"We've got to see how he does in the next 24 hours, how he feels and if he can move around," Tressel said. "The thing we've been saying all along is being able to move around and being functional at the job you have to do are two different things.
"The thing that I've been reminding him of is that it is September, and you've got to treat things as they should be."
The final decision will be a medical one, Tressel said.
Should Wells not be able to go, Tressel said each of his three backups would receive ample carries. In addition, he said the game plan would not change much with the loss of Wells, but that it would take away "some things" from the OSU offense.