Cougs are banged up

PULLMAN—The number of walking wounded continued to grow on Monday during practice, with a starting wide receiver turning an ankle. The Cougs did, however, get a couple of players long on the injured list back for the full pad session.

But full pads notwithstanding, there wasn't a whole lot of hitting going on -- the Cougs went inside the IPF to keep out of the wet weather conditions. Senior safety Chima Nwachukwu (hamstring, neck) and LB Mike Ledgerwood (neck), both former starters, returned full speed to action.

Ledgerwood, who looks to have fully recovered from a stinger, hopped in with the 1's at the WIL, joining MLB C.J. Mizell and SAM Myron Beck because Sekope Kaufusi (shoulder) sat out. Kaufusi, who along with Mizell had energized the linebacker play during the middle stretch of games this season, may be ready to go against Cal by the time Saturday rolls around. But the Cougs are going to be cautious, said Paul Wulff.

"Well, he's sore and we don't know (if he'll be ready)," Wulff said. "That's truly going to be see how the week progresses. We don't want to get him back too soon, so it happens again and we're dealing with an issue where we have to have surgery."

LB Alex Hoffman-Ellis (variety of bumps and bruises) was also held out, as he has been for most Mondays.

Wulff has said that true freshman Deone Bucannon will continue to start due to his impressive play, and Nwachukwu said he's eager to help the team out anyway he can.

A NEW INJURY for the Cougs Monday night befell WR Jared Karstetter after he went up for a pass from QB Jeff Tuel and came down awkwardly on his ankle. Karstetter limped off and did not return, with the trainers immediately strapping an ice pack on his ankle. The severity was not available at press time but it did not appear serious.

WR Daniel Blackledge was also held out of Monday's session after experiencing headaches and a possible concussion. Tighter rules on concussions this year have had some in and around college football wondering this season if the rules have gone too far the other way.

"With these new concussion rules, if anyone has any type of headache... It seems like every game we have two or three. And I'm not so sure every coach on our staff wouldn't have three of four concussions as well based on the symptoms we talked about with a headache. I've had one every week," Wulff quipped. Wulff said Blackledge will be monitored closely and more should be known on his status later in the week.

THE LIST OF injured Cougars is a lengthy one. The Cougs were without RB James Montgomery on Monday -- Wulff said he remains nicked up, while Carl Winston was out with a hamstring injury. Chantz Staden remained out Monday as well, with a variety of dings.

On the offensive line, B.J. Guerra was in a yellow no-contact jersey after suffering a stinger at ASU. Senior center Chris Prummer out of Renton saw plenty of action running with the 1's.

Prummer, a former walk-on, was inserted for a couple series against ASU, with Zack Williams moving over to left guard, Wade Jacobson shifting to left tackle and John Fullington moving to right tackle. Prummer saw most of Monday night with the first team at center, while usual starter Williams spent the majority of his evening running with the 2's.

Backup LG Andrew Roxas was also absent from Monday's session. Wulff said he was under the weather. LB Eric Oertel (hamstring) was testing himself on the sidelines Monday night, running full speed wind sprints throughout the session. CB Aire Justin (concussion) returned to practice Monday in a yellow no-contact jersey. He spent the majority of the night running with the 2's.

Safety Anthony Carpenter remained out with a concussion. Wulff said he's certainly one the team would love to have back this week.

"It's just a very sensitive issue and if there's any remote sign of anything, then you're yanked," Wulff said. "I'm all for being cautious, but it goes back to that whole thing of are we too cautions, or are we not. And I don't have the answer on that."

SO HOW ABOUT the Cougs' mental health? Will they respond this Saturday against Cal after getting blown out by ASU in a game many thought they had the chance to win?

"It's really disappointing but week in and week out after Saturday you have to flip the switch and it's on to the next one," Nwachukwu said. "You'll get beat that next Saturday if you don't forget about what happened in the past."

WSU is slated to return to Rogers Field on Tuesday, provided the rain that has hit the state (record amounts in Seattle) subsides a bit. Whether they go full contact a lot this coming practice week remains to be seen with the Cougs pretty well dinged up and getting ready to play their ninth consecutive game without a bye.

"I think we'll respond very well," Nwachukwu said. "We've had a lot of adversity throughout the years but this team can handle adversity pretty well. Unfortunately, we didn't get the result we wanted on Saturday. But I think we'll come out firing and show up (against Cal)."

Cal QB Kevin Riley is done for the season, and for his college career, after suffering a knee injury against Oregon State last week.

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