Sam Hellman / Scarlet Report

Rutgers Practice 3: Linebacker Depth Concerns, Roster Return

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers defensive coordinator Jay Niemann gave an honest assessment of depth at linebacker and secondary during Tuesday's post-practice media session

The Headline – The numbers game continues at linebacker during the second spring for coach Chris Ash. While players like Deonte Roberts and Trevor Morris showed progress in the offseason, Rutgers is thin via injuries.

“There are some injuries but the guys that were in there are doing a good job,” Niemann said. “Certainly they're light-years ahead of where they were a year ago at this time, as they should be. That's an expectation that they've met. The question is, between now and practice 15, how far we can push forward from there.”

Morris and Tyreek Williams remain at practice under different limitations for injury reasons. Converted- safety Ronnie James is out, and the four 2017 linebacker recruits do not arrive until June.

“Guys sometimes sitting out, it can get unfortunate, but we have guys that can step right up and move different guys to different positions,” Roberts said. “The coaches always emphasize, make sure you know everything that the other positions are doing. You never know. You might move to that position. The next day you might be there just for that day.”

Because of moves like James and Ross Douglas to outside linebacker, the secondary depth presents another challenge for Niemann's defense.

“We're thin back there,” Niemann said. “There aren't a lot of guys. The shear numbers not large back there. We've got to be calculated. It's not like we can afford to move a handful of people, nor do we need to or want to from that perspective.”

Worth NotingRazohnn Gross returns to Rutgers football as a fullback in Jerry Kill's offense. For more on Gross, who will not be available for interviews until later in April, listen to his appearance on the Rutgers Scoutcast.

Quote of the Day – “( Rashawn Battle ) is off to a good start. He's made some good plays early. He had an interception the first day. He's making some good, physical plays at the line of scrimmage. He's learning because he's a year or two behind the other guys in terms of experience in the program. He's off to a good start.” – Niemann.

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