"We were concerned whether it was broken or not, but fortunately the x-rays came back negative," redshirt junior Trent Edwards offers. "It's just real, real swollen - sort of the same thing that happened with me in the Davis game... I have a real tough time gripping the ball and taking snaps from center once that happens. I'll get treatment this week, and that's kind of the extent of it."
Stanford has not yet practiced with a football since Saturday's game. On Sunday, the team took part in conditioning drills on top of film room sessions. Per the normal schedule for the Cardinal this year, Monday is the team's day off. NCAA rules require that players have one day off each week from practice and workout sessions. When the team practices tomorrow, Edwards expects to throw the football around.
"I should be able to go," the quarterback comments on his Tuesday expectations. "I don't know if it's full-go or not, whether we want me to take snaps from center or not. Right now it's just a pretty bad bruise. The swelling just needs to go down. Beyond that, structurally, everything in my hand should be fine."
"I should be available to practice tomorrow, when Coach Harris wants me out there," Edwards adds. "The offense needs a quarterback that is going to stay healthy and going to lead this team out on Saturday, especially in a big situation like we have on our hands."
This injury is eerily similar to what Edwards sustained in the first quarter of the UC Davis game. He recovered in time to play in Stanford's next game against Oregon, however, there are two differences between the September injury and his current ailment. Edwards and Stanford had a bye week following the Davis game, which gave Edwards two weeks to recover from swelling and return to throwing; there is no bye week this go-around. That works against the Cardinal quarterback. In his favor is the fact that both of his hands were hurt in the Davis game, while this injury is only in his non-throwing hand.
"I should be able to deal with the left hand because it's not as involved in throwing the ball," Edwards maintains.
The difficulty in September for the redshirt junior quarterback came in both taking snaps and throwing the ball. Today, his greater concern is taking the snap exchange from the center. The swelling atop Edwards' left hand on Saturday was grotesque, by his admission. But he says that treatments and the passage of time have already brought it down "significantly." He has not yet tried to hold a football with that hand, but he tested his hand this morning by squeezing a tennis ball.
Treatments on Edwards' left hand both Sunday and today have consisted of simultaneous icing and electrical stimulation. The two are combined for 20 minutes on, and then 20 minutes off. Edwards went through two cycles of that treatment yesterday and two more this morning.
"I should be fine. It's just a little swollen," he allows. "The swelling has gone down significantly since the game ended. If it proceeds in the same sort of increments that it has since the game ended on Saturday... I should be fine, and it shouldn't prohibit me from playing in this weekend's game. I should be 100% - there is no question about it."
Two factors are conspiring to help motivate the Cardinal quarterback beyond his normal determination. Walt Harris has a tough attitude and high expectations toward injuries and his players finding a way to play. Mental and physical toughness were the hallmarks of Harris' turnaround efforts starting last winter when he arrived on campus. The schematic improvements on offense, and the increased performance level of players on offense, defense and special teams are visible to fans, but the toughness is the undercurrent that has carried the Cardinal to victories in 2005 where they previously found defeats the previous three years.
"That's something I respect so much in Coach Harris - just the attitude he brings to the guys on this team. Be willing to fight, willing to go out there every week and put themselves on the line," Edwards acknowledges. "Regardless of the injury, we need to fight through it."
And then there is the element of Big Game Week. Every year it is an important affair for this Bay Area native, but Edwards comes into this 108th Big Game with Stanford sporting a winning record - something he has not previously experienced. The five-win Cardinal can clinch a winning regular season and a bowl game for the first time since 2001, when Edwards was a senior at Los Gatos High School. The atmosphere is electric, and Edwards' eyes dance as he discusses what is at stake this week.
"There is so much more energy, so much more life. Guys are more excited," he describes. "I'm expecting it to get a little louder at Stanford Stadium as we get a few more fans. There are a few more phone calls from relatives and a few more ticket requests. That's why I came to Stanford - to play in situations like this. We love playing in environments like this, and especially having the option to go to a bowl game is something that adds to the situation."
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