The fact that junior defensive end Larry Birdine has been cleared to play for the Sooners against Oregon in the Holiday Bowl gives the Oklahoma another weapon to use.
However, just how much he plays or how much he is going to play remains to be seen.
And after Wednesday's practice, OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables stopped and talked about the return of Birdine with OUInsider.com for the Two Minute Drill.
JH: What do you think about the possible return of Birdine to your defense?
BV: "Larry is returning to us with a great deal of passion. When something in your life is taken away you are eager to get it back, and Larry has worked very hard to get back. He will be excited to play, I am sure. There will be some anxiety just from the anticipation of the game. The game can not get here soon enough for him. He loves to play and he plays with all the energy and passion that you want all of your guys to play with. I am sure he will bring that or more and then some."
JH: Are you convinced that he can go out there and perform like he could before the injury?
BV: "Yes, in the capacity that we want him to. We would not put him in a situation where he is setting up for failure. He couldn't go out there and play for 40 snaps, but he could go out there and play in certain situations, like third downs, where we can turn him loose a little bit. He can be a little bit raw in technique, but get by just by playing hard."
JH: Your defensive ends have played great, but you haven't had any depth at that position all year. It would be great for him to be available from a depth perspective wouldn't it?
BV: "Sure, but that is assuming that we get them on third down a bunch. That is always key so don't put the cart before the horse. We don't assume anything around here, but hopefully we can get him out there a bunch because that means we are playing well."
JH: His return certainly gives you another quality pass rusher?
BV: "You bet. He is one of the best athletes on the team and he has proven that when he is in shape and in top form, he has shown that he is as good as a pass rusher as anybody in the country. Will he be that (against Oregon)? Probably not, but he will be pretty good at about 80 to 85 percent.
Venables on Birdine's possible return
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