Shane Murray was supposed to be part of Pitt's strength on defense this season as one of three returning linebackers, but now the 6-foot-1, 220-pound redshirt junior's future is in doubt due to a lingering knee injury.

During the final week in preseason training camp, Shane Murray suffered a right knee strain and missed the opening three games for Pittsburgh. He played sparingly Sept. 27 at Syracuse, but sat out the big win at South Florida.

Now, he isn't even listed on the Panthers' two-deep for the game against Navy (4-2) Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Annapolis, Md. Fifth-year senior Austin Ransom should make a sixth straight start at weak-side linebacker. Redshirt freshman Tristan Roberts is listed as the backup on the depth chart.

"His knee has not progressed like we had hoped or Shane would have hoped,'' Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. "And we are in the process of re-evaluating exactly what we're going to do there, unfortunately. He tried.

"He played a little bit in the Syracuse game, a snap or two, and he practiced all last week. But it's just not where it needs to be, unfortunately. ... Other than that, we've got a few guys banged up, but we should be OK.''

Ransom, despite not playing linebacker until being thrust into the spot after Murray's injury, actually has picked up his pace after a slow start. The 5-foot-11, 215-pound former wide receiver is second on Pitt's defense, behind national leader Scott McKillop, with 36 total tackles. Ransom has 20 solo stops, 3.5 tackles behind the line, one-half a sack, an interception, two quarterback hits and a forced fumble.

"It'll be a shame if Shane can't come back this season, but Austin has done a nice job for us,'' McKillop said. "I think he picked things up pretty quick, so he's a smart player. And he likes to hit. So, as long as he listens to the coaches, he'll be fine. And we'll be all right on defense.''

Murray did not record any statistics in his brief playing stint at Syracuse.

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