Dawgbytes - 10/28

As per the last few weeks, Keith Gilbertson has played the role of medical spokesman more often than coach, and Tuesday was no exception. Some players are coming back, some are staying out, and some positions are still open to competition.

"He's got a decent chance," Gilbertson said of Charles Frederick's odds of playing Saturday against Oregon. "He will practice today, but we won't hit him. He'll have to be pretty pain-free in order to go. We'd like to know right now if he could play, but it will probably be Thursday before we'll know whether he's up or down."

If Frederick doesn't play, Sonny Shackelford will be his backup. "Sonny Shackelford, Jordan Slye, Corey Williams and Isaiah Stanback will all gets lots of reps this week," Gilbertson said.

Reggie Williams saw action returning punts against USC and will probably be called upon to do more of the same against the Ducks. "I have no problem with Reggie returning punts," said Gilbertson.

Justin Robbins will have his knee scoped again within the next 7-10 days and is out for the rest of the season.

Cornerback Roc Alexander is going to be held from practice Tuesday and is questionable for Saturday because of reoccuring shoulder stingers. "Roc is going to have to show us something soon or else we're going to have to move on," said Gilbertson.

Chris Massey is also out with what Gilbertson called an 'abdominal abnormality'. "It could possibly be a hernea," he said.

Derrick Johnson and Sam Cunningham will start out at the corners Saturday, with Matt Fountaine and Dre Simpson backing them up.

Because of the definite absence of Alexander and the possible absence of Frederick, there would be more players stepping up at the two kick return spots. Gilbertson said that Shackelford, Isaiah Stanback and Derrick Johnson would be seen back there returning kicks. Last week, Reggie Williams, Scott Ballew and Shelton Sampson saw action.

"Anthony Russo is going to be a great kick returner, but do you want to take off his redshirt with four games remaining?" said Gilbertson. "In a night game in front of a national audience?"

When talk turned to the big men, Gilbertson addressed Joe Toledo's various nicks and dings. "With his high ankle sprain and back problems, especially considering that he's a big guy - he's probably done for the year," Gilbertson said.

Ben Bandel, Jon Lyon and Jason Benn are the top three healthy tight ends. "Jason Benn travels with us anyways because he's one of our snappers, so he would be our third tight end," Gilbertson said.

Big Tusi Sa'au continues to battle a lower back problem, and the guard from Rainier Beach won't go Tuesday. "I worry about a diminishing returns situation with that bad of a back," Gilbertson said of Tusi's condition. "My instincts tell me that eventually he'll have to stop. But he likes to play and is a good player, but you reach a point where you just have to stop and rest it for a while.

"Backs are tricky, but as a coach, to see the things he's doing...he's high on my list right now for sticking it out and being tough. But I want to see him have a great life, as opposed to getting a few extra snaps."

Even the punting spot isn't immune to health concerns. "Garth isn't 100 percent," Gilbertson said, adding that his hamstring injury is probably something he'll be dealing with off and on for the rest of the season. "But I have no hesitation in kicking with Sean Douglas. Oregon is prolific in blocking punts. They have one guy with 5 right now (Keith Lewis), so we need to make sure he's accounted for."

In more positive news, Rich Alexis appears ready to get back his starting tailback spot this coming weekend. "He's fine and will be full-go today," Gilbertson said.

One player that's battling to keep his job is Evan Benjamin. "That job is back in competition right now with Owen Biddle," Gilbertson said of the starting strong safety position. "I was really impressed with how he played. He got around the ball, made tackles and made big hits."

Dawgman.com Top Stories