Return of the steakeaters

PULLMAN—Although plagued with injuries all year, it looks like the defensive line's luck is starting to change. Coach Mike Walker says one starting playmaker inside, Ropati Pitoitua, has a good shot of playing this Saturday, while another may not be far behind. DT Fevaea'i Ahmu, slowed all year by a stress fracture in his his foot, suited up for the first time in weeks during Wednesday's session.

"Hopefully the Apple Cup, we're looking at that game (for Fevaea'i Ahmu)," Walker said. "But my eyes were lighting up seeing both those guys out there."

The other player the d-line coach was referring to was starter Ropati Pitoitua, sidelined with a MCL sprain since the Oct. 21 win over Oregon. The junior d-tackle has practiced with the team since the first session of the week on Tuesday.

Ahmu, a 6-1, 289 pound sophomore starter who has missed most of the season, wore his familiar No. 92 jersey and a donned a helmet for the beginning of the session, although he only stretched with the team before returning to the locker room.

"It's great to have (Pitoitua) back out there," Walker said. "He's a great lift to the spirits on this defense; just to have his presence out there is great."

Walker said the availability of Pitoitua this Saturday remains questionable, but if he is cleared to play the junior could see considerable time on the field and lauded Pitoitua's toughness, calling him one of the toughest players on the Cougs.

"He's the kind of kid that can play with pain," Walker said. "So I am not really worried about it that much... he can handle it."

Although seemingly optimistic of Pitoitua's chances, Walker said the final decision will not likely be made until Friday. "We'll know more tomorrow -- if the leg feels good Friday and he feels good, he'll be in there at least a quarter of the game," said Walker.

With fellow DT Aaron Johnson returning last week from an elbow injury, several more options and flexibility would come into play up front defensively if Pitoitua is available Saturday, said Walker.

WR Reid Forrest looks to have found a new home backing up starting punter Darryl Blunt, both sending the ball deep during Wednesday's practice. Starting kicker Romeen Abdollmohammadi, was perfect on his kicks. Loren Langley, who started the season until Arizona and is out with a thigh injury, is likely out this week.

The weather has been decidedly different this practice week, as the night was chilly and clear, a far cry from the bitter cold and intense wind and hail last week before the Arizona game.

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