Talkin' Tressel: Illinois Edition

With the Big Ten opener two days away, Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel met with local reporters for his final press conference of the week. In this update get the latest on the health of Jim Cordle, how many offensive linemen will play this weekend and what he thought about practice this week.

Ohio State right tackle Jim Cordle is still on the shelf, but head coach Jim Tressel said the senior will perhaps be back in action sooner than previously thought.

After telling reporters one week ago that Cordle had suffered a right ankle injury and would be out for three to four weeks, Tressel said his most experienced offensive lineman underwent arthroscopic surgery on the ankle and received some good news.

"He's probably better than we thought," Tressel said. "Our expectations are to have him back in a few weeks. I would say at least two more games, and that's with no medical basis at all. It's what I'm hearing."

Tressel said the Buckeyes went into the exploratory surgery expecting the worst and came out with better news instead.

In Cordle's place, Tressel shuffled his offensive line a number of times last weekend against the Toledo Rockets with sophomore J.B. Shugarts getting the start at right tackle. This weekend, the hope is to play a number of linemen against Illinois (3:30 p.m., ABC).

"It's nice if you can get seven or eight guys playing," Tressel said.

This week, up to four players could see work at tackle: Andy Miller, Mike Adams and Shugarts as well as starting right guard Bryant Browning. At guard, fans can expect to see Justin Boren, Miller and Browning.

Miller has held down the starting left tackle spot for the first three games this season, but he is listed as the potential starter this week along with Adams, who made his season debut against Toledo after a two-game suspension to open the season. Tressel said his hope is that both will play a fair amount against Illinois.

"I'd like to see both of them keep trying to work to get better," Tressel said. "I can't promise you that will happen."

Tressel said he has not heard that Adams could be the starter in place of Miller, but he did not rule it out either.

"If the game were right this moment, my guess would be that it would be Andrew but both would play," Tressel said. "That's the way it was discussed this morning."

Both redshirt freshman safety Zach Domicone and freshman running back Jaamal Berry remain a week away from being to contribute, Tressel said. In addition, he listed senior safety Aaron Gant as being out for a while still.

"Knock on wood, for this time of season coming off of training camp and three tough games ... no complaints about our health," Tressel said.

In addition, Tressel said a few players missed Monday's practice due to the flu but added that there had been no lingering effects. Starting punter Jon Thoma missed the Toledo game with the illness, and players will be receiving flu shots this weekend as a preventative measure.

Berry has not been a part of the run game to this point, but Tressel said his hope going forward is to use 2½ running backs. Dan Herron and Brandon Saine each count as one, and freshman Jordan Hall is the third guy who will see a limited number of reps.

Getting ready for the Illini has seen the Buckeyes put on one of their best days of practice all season, Tressel said.

"I thought Monday was a solid practice coming off of watching the film and doing all your corrections," he said. "I thought Tuesday was as good of a practice as we've had in a long, long time. I thought both sides of the ball played fast and played efficient.

"I thought yesterday wasn't quite as good as Tuesday. It wasn't quite as long a practice. It was our first day of school and our guys were justifiably distracted in a few areas, but it wasn't poor at all. It didn't quite have the precision that Tuesday did."

Thursday's practice is the final tune-up when the coaches go over what OSU is planning to do based on what they think the Fighting Illini will do.

"What we need is a very efficient practice today and get ready to open the Big Ten season," Tressel said.

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