PRACTICE: Early start, injury & return news

PULLMAN -- The Cougs set their alarm clocks a little earlier than normal today, taking the field at the indoor practice facility at 6 a.m. Another hoss is dinged up though it doesn't look to be long term, and it looks like safety Chima Nwachukwu could be switching positions for the second time this season. The Cougars may, however, get an injured corner back in time for Cal.

Kevin Kooyman (knee) returned to practice this morning. The defensive end, injured in the opener, was running around and showing a good amount of mobility alongside fellow DE Travis Long on Tuesday. Kooyman may, however, still redshirt this season. He has been out since the opener.

LT Tyson Pencer, however, did not participate in practice and had a boot on his ankle. His ankle was rolled in the game against ASU. Still, it does not appear to be long term, said Paul Wulff.

"You know, we're hoping he can get back by next Tuesday," said Wulff of Pencer. "Kenny (Alfred) will be back, Zack (Williams) should be back. They're not going to be 100 percent but we're going to be getting some guys back."

Alfred, as expected, was also a spectator on Tuesday after suffering a knee laceration and was wearing a protective brace on that right knee. LG Brian Danaher is out indefinitely after suffering his second concussion on the season.

With Alfred sitting out, RT Micah Hannam was the only starter Tuesday up front who began the season on the No. 1 unit. (Steven Ayers (ankle), Williams (high ankle sprain), Alfred, B.J. Guerra (MCL sprain).

FOR THE MOST part on Tuesday, and expected for a bye week practice, there was very little 1-on-1 action. The first team spent a good portion of the day running against the 2's and the scout team and working on technique and fundamentals. Jeff Tuel ran the 1's with Marshall Lobbestael seeing some reps, and running the 2's.

Over on defense, depth at the cornerback position has been depleted through injury, and Wulff said that safety Chima Nwachukwu will start to see some more action at the CB spot.

Myron Beck will now move over from 'backer and get increased reps at the safety position, a position where he played early last season.

CB Aire Justin (quadriceps) has made some progress on his injury, and Wulff seemed hopeful that the Culver City product could practice next week, and possibly play against Cal. Justin has missed the last three weeks with the injury.

When asked if burning the redshirts of Nolan Washington or Anthony Carpenter were a possibility with the injuries at corner, Wulff said the coaching staff has discussed it, but want to stay the course.

With Nwachukwu at corner and Beck at safety, it would provide more flexibility, Wulff said, and both Beck and Nwachukwu have seen action at their respective new positions.

Offensive lineman B.J. Guerra was doing some light jogging from end zone to end zone alongside backup kicker Patrick Rooney. Guerra has been out since SMU, and Rooney is recovering from a hip flexor.

MLB Alex Hoffman-Ellis was at practice Tuesday and looked to be just fine after suffering a staph infection early last week. Hoffman-Ellis did not play in Saturday's loss to ASU.

The 6 a.m. practices on Tuesday and Wednesday are in large part because the coaches will hit the recruiting road on Wednesday afternoon. Wulff said the other option of having a Tuesday afternoon practice followed by a 6 a.m. session on Wednesday was dismissed because it likely wouldn't have been productive with such a small turnaround time.

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