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PRACTICE: Who fills Cracraft’s slot?

PULLMAN - How does Washington State replace a one-of-a-kind receiver? Mike Leach began the process of formulating an answer to that question during practice Tuesday. Wazzu uses a rotation of four players at inside receiver, River Cracraft being the most noteworthy of the group. With Cracraft done for the season, what's the new plan for final two games this season? Here's what could be gleaned from our perch overlooking Martin Stadium.

John Thompson, Robert Lewis, and Kyle Sweet are three of the four inside receivers usually listed on WSU's depth chart. They took the lion's share of the reps on Tuesday, rotating at both slot positions along with two other Coug receivers who stepped in to give the others a breather. 

From my chair, Thompson is likely to be named the official starter for Saturday's game with Colorado (12:30pm, Fox). And he’s going to be the guy that needs to step up the most. His level of production and ability to be a reliable target for Luke Falk will be a major factor in the offense this week and for the remainder of the season.

In addition to the three we're used to seeing line up at inside receiver, outside receiver Kaleb Fossum (pictured above) and walk-on slot receiver Brandon Arconado took limited reps at both the H and Y positions. They only had a handful of plays between them, but both players looked like they could be key contributors in an effort to pick up the slack left behind from the loss of Cracraft. If their number happens to get called on Saturday, it probably won’t be often - but in the case that it does, these guys have to produce and make plays.

As for the possibility some speculated of Keith Harrington moving back where he started this year at inside WR despite having just recently returned to the stable of Wazzu running backs, well, that ship seems to have sailed. Harrington was strictly working with the running backs, the position he played last season, where he could very likely see some playing time this week.

Cracraft himself was present at practice and fully engaged just as he’s been all season long while he continues to be active in workouts and meetings just like any other game week.

I can personally tell you that there is nothing that could possibly keep River away from this team or out of the loop. He is fully committed to finishing off the season, whether that means on the field, in the weight room, or in meetings. He is going to have a positive impact whether suited up or not for the remainder of the season while leaving his mark on this team as you'd expect a leader to do.

Here are highlights and takeaways from Tuesday’s practice:

- Periods were much shorter than usual and more backups took reps so that two-deep players more than likely could save their legs for game day.

- The defense had their struggles early against a Colorado-scheme scout team, but cleaned things up as practice carried on.

- Isaiah Johnson-Mack and Tyler Hilinski connected on a couple long touchdown passes.

- CJ Dimry caught two deep passes for 40+ yard gains against Marcellus Pippins.

- Jahad Woods took reps at WILL, recording an interception and a pass break-up during the defense's team period.

- Charleston White intercepted a deep pass against the scout team.

- James Williams, Gerard Wicks, Jamal Morrow, and Harrington all shared reps at running back.

RELATED: River Cracraft's sterling WSU career is over

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