With just a week until the season opener, the Colonels are dealing with some fairly significant injury concerns, especially on offense.
When the team scrimmaged Saturday morning at Roy Kidd Stadium, they were without two of their best receivers, a starting tight end and a key running back, along with several other players.
The defense dominated the intra-squad event, shutting out the offense in the first half before allowing just two second-half scores.
“I think there’s no question that that made it more difficult to move the ball,” EKU coach Dean Hood said. “The defense is usually ahead (at this part of camp) and they had more (of their starters).”
None of the injuries to the front-line offensive players is considered extremely serious or season-ending at this point.
Senior tight end Matt Lengel is the biggest concern right now.
After missing almost all of last season, Lengel suffered another knee injury in the team’s first scrimmage of camp two weeks ago.
“It’s the same knee. Just a different deal,” Hood said of Lengel. “Last time it was an ACL. This time its an MCL, but its just a strain. That’s a big difference. We just want to wait until he’s fully recovered and that will probably be sometime this week.”
Lengel’s status for next Thursday’s season-opener against Robert Morris at Roy Kidd Stadium is still uncertain.
Redshirt freshman running back J.J. Jude sustained a shoulder separation last week and did not play in Saturday’s scrimmage.
He should be ready to return to practice full-time later this week.
“He went through some live group work with some hitting (Tuesday),” Hood said of Jude. “He will probably be available for the scrimmage, but we will probably put him on the shelf for one more day.”
Sophomore receivers Jeff Glover and Jaucady Rutledge were also held out of Saturday’s scrimmage.
Glover has practiced all week, but Rutledge has an MCL strain and may not be ready for the opener.
“Glover is good,” Hood said. “He’s practiced all week. Jaucady probably needs another week to 10 days.”
Tight end Nathan Watts saw limited action in the scrimmage because of a lingering foot problem and fullback Jeremy James continues to make progress as he tries to recovery from an injury.
Senior defensive lineman Shawn Shupperd also sat out Saturday because of a shoulder problem. He has practiced the past couple of days and should be ready for the opener.
Colonels washed away
The Colonels had their Wednesday’s afternoon practice cancelled because of rain and lightning.
They will hold their third and final preseason scrimmage at 2:45 p.m. today at Roy Kidd Stadium.
“This scrimmage will be all about Robert Morris,” Hood said. “It will kind of be a best against the rest type of thing.”
Running to the finish
It appears that the running back competition at EKU will stretch into the regular season.
None of the four backs has emerged as the No. 1 option in the backfield and likely all four — Jude, Thomas Owens, Jared Sanders and Caleb Watkins — will get playing time in the season opener and perhaps in the following weeks.
“I think it’s still a battle,” Hood said. “We might get more answers against Robert Morris and Louisville then we have playing against ourselves in camp. Everyone is doing well. We are not disappointed in anyone, but I don’t know if anyone has separated themselves from the rest.”