August 28, 2008

Herring availability uncertain for opener

Arizona State's running back situation got a lot more clear in one respect, and a bit more uncertain in another when senior Keegan Herring pulled up lame with a right hamstring strain during Wednesday night's practice.

Herring and junior Dimitri Nance and been sharing reps with the first-team and it was uncertain who would be on the field first versus NAU on Saturday, but with Herring now questionable for that game, it appears very likely Nance will be the starter.

But with Shaun DeWitty also out of practice Wednesday due to his own lingering hamstring issue, the Sun Devils are suddenly not quite as deep at what has been considered a position of strength. It's unknown what they'll get from others who will perhaps now be called upon to carry more of the load than they otherwise would have been.

More than likely, freshman Ryan Bass and Jarrell Woods will be asked to pick up the slack if Herring and DeWitty are not able to play. Both are unknowns at this level.

"You're always concerned," coach Dennis Erickson said, when asked if the at the position was an issue. "That's why people say, 'Why would you even think about playing Ryan Bass?' That's why we're playing him; because he's good enough to play. So, you go through a season at that position, you might end up going through four or five of them. (Freshman walk-on James) Morrison might end up not being in redshirt very long too.

"The bad thing is DeWitty's hurt, Keegan's hurt. The good thing is we have a lot of depth there with Dmitri and Jarrell Woods is running good. I feel bad for them not having the opportunity to play. But I feel like we have a lot of depth."

Erickson said he would be cautious with Herring, and not rush him into action versus NAU.

"I'd like to see him play but that's why we have depth," Erickson said. "That position, we went through it last year where we had guys hurt all the time. It's the nature of the position. That's why you try to recruit a lot of them. Hopefully Keegan can play. He might play…I'm not going to put him out there where he can end up missing five or six games."

Cornerbacking

Herring wasn't the only player who got hurt on Wednesday, as starting cornerback Omar Bolden apparently strained his left shoulder/upper arm. Bolden spent some time with the trainer and then went back onto the field with the aid of a brace on the affected area. But he didn't have his normally strong showing, getting beaten downfield twice for deep completions by the scout team offense on passes by freshman quarterback Jack Elway to walk-on receivers. It's something to watch moving forward.

During the later portions of practice, true freshman Josh Jordan worked at the first-team cornerback spot opposite Bolden, on the right side. Jordan also was the first-team nickel on Wednesday, with Jarrell Holman at safety.

Kickoff coverage

ASU spent time working on kickoff coverage Wednesday. The first-team features (from right to left) Bolden Clint Floyd, Brandon Magee, Chad Lindsey Anthony Reyes, Thomas Weber (kicker), Shelly Lyons, Oliver Aaron, Angelo Fobbs-Valentino, Troy Nolan and Terell Carr.

Still no surgeries

No Sun Devil has required surgery for any injury suffered since camp started and that streak will continue as freshmen tight end Steven Figueroa appears to have avoided the possibility of going under the knife, at least for now.

Figueroa found out on Wednesday that his fractured toe isn't quite as bad as a similar injury suffered by Chris McGaha in the spring that necessitated surgery. Figueroa will wear a protective boot for five weeks and then be able to get back into a regular shoe and complete rehab, assuming the toe is healing as expected. He could potentially return to the scout team in 6-to-8 weeks.

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