A litany of minor bumps and bruises and the infusion of youth in this year's football program are clouding the Mountaineer depth chart in the second week of fall practice.
The injuries – although non have been significant to this point – are pulling repetitions away from critical positions looking for healthy and productive bodies, such as the offensive line and receiving corps.
"We're a little limited in how fast we can progress because we got some guys out with injuries," Head Coach Rich Rodriguez sad after Tuesday's practice.
Both Travis Garrett and Chris Bassler remained sidelined, leaving a void at left tackle. Brandon Myles and Jeremy Bruce missed practice at receiver, and Dwayne Thompson was also limited in today's workouts.
Bruce was the main concern for the head coach.
"He's the one who really needs reps because he has a chance to play for us in the slot," Rodriguez said.
Bruce, a true freshman, will miss approximately a week with an ankle injury. Rodriguez reiterated, however, that the young pass catcher is in fine physical shape and will only need to catch up on mental reps upon his return. Bruce is expected to challenge for a spot in the two-deep rotation by the opener at Syracuse.
Injuries aside, Rodriguez hopes that after a situational scrimmage on Wednesday, and a more intense full squad scrimmage on Saturday; that the two-deep picture will become a little clearer.
Rodriguez hinted that true freshman Patrick McAfee could see additional duties on the kickoff team and punting units. The coach, however, cautioned he did not want to overwork the young, talented place kicker.
With the injuries at wide receiver, Dorrell Jollah is working his way into the two-deep rotation. Jollah – cited by Rodriguez as smart and physical – could be versatile enough to play all four receiver positions this season.
Anticipate seeing plenty of Jason Colson in 2005. Rodriguez said Colson could see the field for as many as 60 or 65 plays. The junior is working out at slot receiver, and as dictated by the game, will split time between receiver and running back.
With Garrett and Bassler slowed by injuries, a quartet of redshirt freshmen has been seeing additional work in practice. Jake Figner, John Bradshaw, Ryan Stanchek and Mike Dent are all receiving reps this fall. The youngsters still have work to do, however.
"Those four guys are getting better everyday, but they've still never played in a game," Rodriguez said. "We've tried to put some intensity into practice, but it's not what it's going to be like in a game."
Former Mountaineer and Tennessee Titans rookie Adam "Pac-Man" Jones is expected to report to Titans practice as soon as today after agreeing in principle to a contract after a lengthy holdout.
Rodriguez suggested that the signing came – in part – because of Pac-Man's desire to play in Friday's exhibition game against the Atlanta Falcons in Jones' childhood backyard.