Doba offers no insight on DL suspensions

PULLMAN -- In about an hour, Washington State will take the field for the first day of fall practice. They'll do so without backup defensive linemen Odell Howard and Paul Stevens. Coach Bill Doba said Stevens, a defensive end, and Howard, a defensive tackle, are suspended until further notice for a violation of team policy.

Doba declined to give details on length of the suspension or nature of the infraction.

"They are suspended for violation of team policy, let's leave it at that," said Doba. "I'd rather talk about the guys that are here. They're not here."

Paul Stevens, a junior, was listed as third on the depth chart at the weakside end behind starter Mkristo Bruce and No. 2 Mike Graise. Still, Stevens was expected to help shore up the depth and his suspension leaves the Cougs thin out on the edge. Graise (wrist) and Lance Broadus (groin), No. 2 behind strongside starting DE Matt Mullennix, are both coming back from injury this offseason. Broadus has been running of late and may be limited by the training staff in practice. Graise is not expected to have any limitations starting with today's helmets-only practice.

Behind Broadus and Graise, it gets inexperienced fast, with incoming rookies and walk-ons filling out the roster. Expected to take the field for their first WSU fall camp practice this afternoon are 2006 signees Preston Brooks, Ansley Jean-Jacques and Kevin Kooyman.

The Cougs could also move a player or two to defensive end from another position as camp progresses but Doba didn't mention anything other than his statement on the matter during the press conference.

Odell Howard, a senior, was one of six tackles in what's been shaping up as the deepest DT rotation the Cougs have had in some time. A triumvirate of what was in effect three starters at tackle last year returns in 2006 -- Aaron Johnson (6-6, 303, JR) has been a fixture for the last two seasons, while true sophomore Fevaea'i Ahmu (6-1, 282) started all 12 games last year in place of Ropati Pitoitua (6-8, 288), a 2004 starter lost for most of last year with a broken leg.

Before a high ankle sprain cut short Howard's last week of spring ball, he was battling with improving Matt Eichelberger (6-3, 313) for turns. Incoming JC defensive tackle Bryan Tarkington (6-4, 320) is also expected to be in the mix with Ahmu. He is in Pullman but will not practice today, said Doba. Tarkington is awaiting transcript issues to be cleared up. The fact he is at WSU would appear to bode well for an on-field debut sooner rather than later but there is no estimate for when the matter will be resolved. A touted recruiting class gem for Washington State, Toby Turpin, is expected to redshirt his first season because of the considerable depth at tackle.

Doba said practice is expected to run long tonight, check back on CF.C later this evening for comprehensive coverage of Day One of Cougar Fall Camp.

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