A sea of yellow jerseys

PULLMAN--Full contact was all the rage on Tuesday. Plenty of players returned to action, but that also resulted in a sea of yellow no-contact jerseys. Intensity, though, was high -- the Cougs were still banging bodies left and right, and big hits were plentiful. A reserve defensive lineman went down hard midway through practice and it looks like WSU will have a new starting running back for Cal.

Among the notables returning to action on Tuesday, they included LB Alex Hoffman-Ellis (back), S Anthony Carpenter (concussion) and RB Chantz Staden (rib). They joined teammates Casey Locker (shoulder), Aire Justin (concussion), and B.J. Guerra (stinger) in yellow no-contact jerseys.

Hoffman-Ellis and Guerra saw action against the scout teams but when the first team defense and offense matched up for full tilt 11-on-11 drills, both players were spectators on the sidelines. Mike Ledgerwood saw the majority of action at the WIL linebacker spot in place of Hoffman-Ellis. Sekope Kaufusi, who is wait and see for Saturday's tilt against Cal, was held out of practice for a second straight day with a shoulder injury. Eric Oertel (hamstring) and running back Carl Winston (hamstring) also sat out Tuesday.

Reserve DT Justin Clayton was injured about halfway through the session during line drills, and Clayton was down on the field for at least 10 minutes. Team doctors applied an ice pack to his knee and eventually helped him off the field. SID Bill Stevens confirmed later that Clayton suffered a subluxed kneecap, which was put back into place by the medical staff.

At the RB position, the Cougars welcomed back Chantz Staden, out for several weeks with a rib injury. Staden spent most of his time working with the special teams unit, and Wulff has termed him as doubtful for Saturday. Still, Staden looked fresh on Tuesday.

Starting RB James Montgomery (bruised quad), also suffered a concussion in the loss to ASU and did not pass the medical test on Tuesday morning according to the Spokesman-Review. He won't have enough recovery time to take the test again, pass it and play this weekend.

THE COUGAR D nonetheless continues to prepare for a California offense with one of the conference's better running backs in Shane Vereen. Cal will have a new QB under center in Brock Mansion, due to the season ending knee injury to starter Kevin Riley.

"It doesn't change our game plan because their backup quarterback is pretty good," Tyree Toomer said. "The time that he's been in, we've watched some tape on him and he's a Pac-10 Division I scholarship football player…He's probably just as good or he could be potentially better (than Riley). He's starting in the Pac-10 so we're not going to take him lightly."

But with a new quarterback, and a strong running game, the Golden Bears are expected to run, run, run against WSU. The Cougs have allowed 367 rush yards over the last two weeks and have not done a good job of stopping the run all season.

ON OFFENSE, WR's Jared Karstetter (ankle) and Daniel Blackledge (concussion) did not participate in the Tuesday session. Karstetter was walking just fine and without a limp, however. He is expected to be good to go come game time, and Blackledge could be too.

Up front, the recent spate of injuries over the past few weeks are being keenly felt. C Zack Williams made his return to the 1's Tuesday after seeing most of his evening Monday night with the 2's. With Guerra being held out of full contact drills, backup center and former walk-on Chris Prummer moved to RG with the 1's and had some nice blocks opening up big holes on several plays for RB Logwone Mitz.

Williams has received fan criticism for some low snaps, but teammate and starting LG Wade Jacobsen said that the fifth year senior is the leader of the offensive line. He's also arguably the unit's most physical blocker.

"Zack's been a leader for us the whole time," Jacobsen said. "He's always come out and played as hard as he can. He's a real good football player…He know his stuff, and he's the leader of the pack."

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