The Anderson Prognosis
David Shaw said that he expected Henry Anderson to miss four to six weeks as he recovers from an undisclosed knee injury sustained during the second quarter of the Cardinal's win at Army, though he admitted that a six-week recovery outlook was more probable.
Depending on one's perspective, today's update on the six-foot-six, 295-pound defensive end's health can either be construed as a significant blow or big break for Stanford. From the negative perspective, Anderson will likely miss games against Arizona State, Washington State, Washington, UCLA, Utah, and Oregon State. But while all of those contests present legitimate threats to Stanford, it's safe to say that the Cardinal has enough defensive firepower to defeat any of those teams without Anderson.
Based on No. 91's monstrous performance at Autzen Stadium last year, it's unlikely Stanford has enough firepower to take down Oregon without him. That's where the positive perspective comes in: The six-week timetable suggests that Anderson will return by late October, just in time for the Ducks' November 7 visit to Stanford Stadium.
Of course, no timetable is a guarantee at this point. Shaw says that he'll have a more accurate idea of Anderson's estimated return within a week or two, after the rehabilitation process is firmly underway. Josh Mauro will take his place, while Aziz Shittu is the next in line up front. For now, the Cardinal's rotation on the defensive line will extend at least four players deep. Shaw hopes that number can grow to five and six players as the season progresses, and Anderson's anticipated return about six weeks from now will boost the number by one.
Defensive line coach Randy Hart helped illustrate the difference the Cardinal will see up front during Anderson's absence. Mauro is known by defensive coordinator Derek Mason as a "bull in a china shop."
"Henry is a ready, aim, fire guy," Hart smiled. "Josh is more of a ready, fire, aim guy."
Hewitt to Provide a Boost
Stanford fullback Ryan Hewitt, who had been ailing because of a deep knee bruise suffered back during the Cardinal's open practice August 24, returned to full participation during Thursday's practice. Shaw expects him to play Saturday against ASU after missing Stanford's game against Army. The Farm Boys can certainly use Hewitt's boost: His presence in the short passing game can help an offense that saw zero catches from its tight ends for only the second time in the Jim Harbaugh-David Shaw era against Army.
"He's won't go from not playing to being in for 60 snaps, though," Shaw said.
Lee Ward and Pat Skov will rotate with Hewitt to keep him fresh. The former has seen significant playing time over the course of the past two weeks in relief of No. 85.
One admirable side note: Ward's father drove 16 hours from St. Louis to West Point to see his son play last Saturday.
Blake Martinez, who was hurt in practice last week, is expected to miss about three more weeks because of an undisclosed injury. Shaw said that the linebacker's early rehabilitation efforts have been coming along well. Senior Joe Hemschoot has taken Martinez's spot behind Shayne Skov on Stanford's depth chart, and he's pleased the staff with his performance so far.
"Joe's a contact player," Shaw said. "He's not the biggest guy, but some of our guys think he packs the biggest punch. He's a hitter, and he's had a great week of practice."
With Barry Browning definitely ruled out after injuring "multiple body parts" during an "extremely awkward" fall at West Point, Stanford may be pushed to break in a new fourth cornerback against Arizona State's uptempo attack on Saturday. Alex Carter, Wayne Lyons, and Devon Carrington are the Cardinal's top three bodies at the position, but the Farm Boys have typically used a four-man rotation against fast-paced offenses. Arizona State ran 93 plays against Wisconsin last week.
The Bootleg predicted Usua Amanam and Ra'Chard Pippens would be the two most likely candidates to fill Browning's void, and Shaw confirmed that speculation this week. Amanam is Stanford's starting nickel back, so the staff is very comfortable with his knowledge of the playbook. Pippens, meanwhile, brings tantalizing six-foot-two physicality to the position. He impressed during the offseason.
"Ra'Chard Pippens had his best week of practice as a Stanford Cardinal last week," Shaw said.
David Lombardi is the Stanford Insider for The Bootleg. Check him out at www.davidlombardisports.com and follow him on Twitter @DavidMLombardi.
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