Good news on Hoffman-Ellis

PULLMAN -- MRI tests on middle linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis' right foot came back negative, Cougar head coach Paul Wulff said this weekend. Originally Wulff and team trainers thought it might have been a stress fracture but it turned out to be a combination of arthritis and irritation.

Hoffman-Ellis was jogging around the field at Martin Stadium and looked to be doing so without any hesitation or discomfort. He is expected to start or at least play significantly for WSU this season.

The injury bug, which wreaked havoc on the Cougs last fall, has been mild through two full weeks of fall camp. And that, Wulff said, has made an especially big difference on the Cougars' defensive line, which is one of the positions with the most question-marks.

"It's clearly gotten a lot better (the D line)," Wulff said. "We're making a lot of progress and with guys staying healthy we are building depth and we are getting a lot of reps which is a great thing because the top eight working with the 1's and 2's are getting quality opportunities."

Elsewhere on the injury front, dinged up receivers Jeshua Anderson, Daniel Blackledge, Johnny Forzani and Jeffrey Solomon participated Saturday in route running drills that were executed at a light-jog speed. It was a positive sign for the receivers to at least be re-united with the team on the field. Anderson had a noticeable limp as he walked off the field, but it didn't stop him from joining the other three injured receivers for 5-yard hitch routes with Marshall Lobbestael after practice.

All of Saturday afternoon's practice was dialed down after an intense morning workout. The focus was on half-speed game prep and special teams. The team was in helmets only and the practice ran a short and sweet 80 minutes.

"We're just going through scenarios and making sure we can operate in and out with all the units that have to change going on and off the field," said Wulff.

During the special team plays, punter Reid Forrest consistently pounded the ball, making return men Brandon Jones and Leon Brooks back peddle for about 7-10 yards in order to get under the ball. Forrest had one gorgeous, 60-yarder to Jones that had great hang time.

Classes at WSU begin Monday, so the Cougars won't begin their practice week until Tuesday.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Braulio Perez, brand new to CF.C, is a junior at Washington State. He is studying broadcast news at the Murrow College of Communication. He is a graduate of Inglemoor High in Kenmore, Wash.

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