PRACTICE: Will corner be cleared for takeoff?

PULLMAN — One of the bigger questions for the Cougars this week leading up to the tilt with Arizona State -- will starting CB Daniel Simmons, coming off a concussion against Stanford, be cleared to line up on Saturday?

High winds and heavy rains dictated a shoulder pads and helmets session in the Indoor Practice field on Monday night. The contact was light, as it usually is in the bubble. As is also the case on Mondays, there were plenty of bodies getting some rest, including Daniel Simmons.

Paul Wulff said he should probably know sometime today whether Simmons will be ready.

"We feel like it's looking promising at this point," Wulff said. "I think he's doing good."

With Simmons sitting out Monday, corners Aire Justin and Terrance Hayward saw plenty of reps with the 1's against the scout team.

Justin, who has been battling hamstring and knee issues all season, was in a yellow no-contact uniform. Nolan Washington, who suffered a dislocated finger on Saturday and had a splint on his hand, was also participating and Wulff said the redshirt freshman should be just fine for ASU.

Back-up safety Anthony Carpenter also was rested on Monday night, but joined the rest of the injured players walking laps. He is expected to be good to go on Saturday. Wulff noted much of the team was a little nicked up after practice with various bumps and bruises. ASU, coming off a beatdown at the hands of Cal, won't offer much sympathy and while they spread out the ball and go up top plenty, Wulff said their running game is underrated.

"They have one of the best freshman running backs (Deantre Lewis, 421 yards and three TD's in 2010), a heck of a player.They've got some weapons on offense, there's no question there's talent there," said Wulff.

ONE COUGAR WHO has been on an absolute tear as of late has been true freshman safety Deone Bucannon. He racked up 15 tackles against No. 13 Stanford and the week before, broke the school record by a freshman with 16 takedowns against No. 15 Arizona.

"I've been seeing the ball a lot better and my teammates set the plays up for me," Bucannon said. "It's a lot faster out there, but Sekope (Kaufusi) and C.J. (Mizell) they pursue to the ball…and we try and get the job done."

Bucannon was pushing senior Chima Nwachukwu early in the season before Nwachukwu was sidelined with a neck injury. As reported earlier by CF.C, Wulff said that when Nwachukwu is healthy enough to return, Bucannon, because he's earned it with his play, will remain the starter.

"It makes me feel good. But you know it's the Pac-10, and there's always competition. I respect that the coaches have given me a chance to play. I'm going to always go out there 100 percent for my team."

Nwachukwu was able to run some sprints on the sidelines, but hamstring and neck injuries have conspired to limit him to four games this season.

OVER ON THE OFFENSIVE side of the ball, the unit spent most of the evening in position drills, and matched up against the scout team defense to close practice.

During that period, RB Arthur Burns, who just last week made the switch from linebacker to the backfield, saw plenty of reps with the first team offense.

Burns, who starred in high school as a running back, wasn't ready to immediately play the position against Stanford, he's still learning the offense and getting the feel back. But he looks to be slowly but surely heating up. His reps should increase throughout practice this week, said Wulff.

"We're hoping so. It all depends on how easy he makes the transition. It's not a total shock to the system but at the same time there's a lot of learning that he hasn't done since last fall. We'll try to keeping giving him more and more," said Wulff.

During offensive lineman drills, LG Andrew Roxas had the play of the night going up against starter Wade Jacobson.

Roxas got great position on his fellow o-lineman, burying his hands into Jacobson's chest and planting him into the turf, drawing loud cheers from the linemen waiting their turn.

The Cougars are now 1-7 on the season, but they've shown plenty of fight and urgency over the last four weeks, and have been in all four games late.

"It looks good that we're progressing every week and it's really cool to see that," Bucannon said. "I"m sure our fans see it, the coaches see it, and eventually we're going to be there."

NOTABLE NOTE:
Linebackers Alex Hoffman-Ellis (back), Eric Oertel (hamstring) and Mike Ledgerwood (neck) were all sat out Monday night. All three have typically been limited during Monday night practices to try and heal up as much as they can.

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