Broken opportunity: Ahmu, Alfred injured

PULLMAN -- The first few days of Washington State's shorts-and-helmets practices were quiet and, for the most part, injury free. That all changed when full contact drills began, sending a flood of players to the training room. And before Week One of spring workouts came to a close Saturday, there was a rash of bad news from the infirmary. Sophomore defensive tackle A'I Ahmu broke his foot and freshman center Kenny Alfred fractured his hand.

Athletic trainer Bill Drake said the injuries to Ahmu and Alfred will be re-evaluated by a physician on Monday, but they are done for the remainder of the spring as far as contact is concerned. Both players were hurt Friday, the first day of full contact this spring.

The loss of Alfred, competing for one of two starting spots on the offensive line, and Ahmu, who started every game last season as a true freshman, are hits to already thin Cougar lines. But perhaps more of a loss is that the injuries occurred just three days into the 15-practice session.

With Ropati Pitoitua (leg) already sidelined for the spring, Odell Howard and Matt Eichelberger will see increased reps at d-tackle alongside Aaron Johnson. The only other DT listed on the spring roster is walk-on senior Terence Simmons.

Up front offensively, Alfred was among the quartet of Dan Rowlands, Josh Duin and Andy Roof competing for the open center and guard spots this spring. Colin Donovan, Derek Hunter, and Scott Friberg will see increased opportunities with Alfred out. Freshman Joey Eppele is also out this spring as he recovers from foot surgery.

SEEING LIMITED ACTION the first week while still recovering from old injuries were senior tight end Jesse Taylor and sophomore receiver Brandon Gibson.

Taylor has donned the non-contact jersey all week due to a long-term stinger from last season that is still healing. Athletic trainer Bill Drake said the yellow jersey is more for precautionary measure so as not to let the stinger happen again. Taylor has been lifting and he is expected to be 100 percent by the time fall camp rolls around.

Gibson, meanwhile, is still recovering from an elbow scoping procedure he went through earlier this month to remove bone chips stemming from his time as a practice player on the WSU hoops squad. Coach Bill Doba had indicated before spring ball that Gibson would be held out of contact but the Puyallup native could see some action in full pads later in the session. Drake said Gibson is doing fine and will also be re-evaluated on Monday.

Other minor injuries from the week included a sprained ankle to freshman wide receiver Greg Walker and a strained hamstring to junior tight end Jason Price.

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