Kevin Collier fractured his right wrist during a light scrimmage Wednesday and had a cast on it during Thursday night's FanFest workout at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt said that Collier, who had his right arm in a sling, will be out for the season. Collier clearly was disappointed with the situation.
"I hate to use the word unusual or freak play, but we saw it today on film,'' Wannstedt said. "He fell on that wrist 10 times every day for the last month, and why this time it broke, I have no idea. So, we'll use this as a redshirt year (for Collier).
"What this does is put (redshirt sophomore fullback) Shane Brooks now in the tailback position again. And I would think that the possibility of redshirting (freshman) Henry Hynoski is probably not going to happen. So, Henry would move up a spot on the depth chart at fullback.''
Wannstedt added that the Panthers still would like to redshirt freshman tailback Shariff Harris if at all possible. The only way that Harris would get into a game is if either junior starter LaRod Stephens-Howling, freshman LeSean McCoy, fullback Conredge Collins, Brooks or Hynoski would get hurt.
If there is a silver lining for the three players lost to injuries, senior wideout Derek Kinder, freshman offensive guard Chris Jacobson and Collier, it's that they have redshirt years available. Kinder had his surgery this week, and Jacobson is expected to get his knee operated on this coming week.
"The redshirt year gives them hope that it's not over, and they're not losing a year,'' Wannstedt said. "Derek's surgery went great, and they expect a full recovery. And they expect him to be out there when we start our offseason program in January. So, we expect him to be with the team then.''
Other than the sad news about Collier, Wannstedt was pleased with the results from the FanFest practice.
"It was very, very productive and probably the smoothest, from an operations standpoint with our players coming down here and being focused,'' Wannstedt said. "There was no silliness. It was all business, and we got a lot of good work done. We put the kids in a lot of different situations.
"And we talked about pregame and halftime. It was a good night. Coming down here under the lights with some people in the stands, it was a great opportunity for the players, to get those jitters out of their system before it counts (against Eastern Michigan Sept. 1).''
The several hundred fans in the stands even cheered loudly when the Panthers were running sprints after the practice. That apparently buoyed the players to finish the conditioning runs even after a good workout.
"I think we're in great shape,'' Wannstedt said. "We ran eight gassers after an hour practice, and I thought our guys were in great shape. And mentally, they'll be ready to play. We're getting antsy now. It's time to start preparing for the first opponent. We beat up on each other enough.
"It's time for a change, so we won't go full bore on Eastern Michigan until next week, but we'll start easing into it tomorrow. And we'll practice at night at our place just together another one under the lights at our place just to get another night for the guys throwing and catching and so forth.''
Wannstedt clearly was pleased with the team's conditioning throughout training camp the past three weeks.
"Buddy Morris knows what he's doing, and I don't think there's anybody better,'' Wannstedt said. "It's been a long push for him since January, and I think he feels good about where we're at right now.
"Obviously, the strength and conditioning won't show up until the fourth quarter (in games) ... but our guys believe that they're in the best shape that they've been in, and they believe that they're as strong as they can be. Now, we just have to go out and play football. Hopefully, this will make a difference, but I believe it will.''
The final camp practice is Friday night from 6:30-8:30 at the UPMC Sports Complex.
Collier Out For Season
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