SEATTLE – On the fifth day of practice – the first day with full pads – the Washington Huskies football team didn’t see a player get carted off the practice field with an injury.
But the Huskies learned starting safety/linebacker Nate Fellner would miss at least four weeks with a broken foot and reserve linebacker Garret Gilliland left the team.
The losses of Fellner, who started four games last season, and Gilliland, who played in 12 games, creates a hole at linebacker. But coach Steve Sarkisian said he thinks the team won’t have a problem filling the void.
“We actually have decent numbers at the position,” he said. “It’s just getting the right guys on the field at the right spots.”
With Fellner out, sophomore linebacker Jamaal Kearse and redshirt freshman Scott Lawyer saw an increase in their first-team repetitions. Freshman Cory Littleton and junior Thomas Tutogi also will get more opportunities, Sarkisian said.
Freshman linebacker Blake Rodgers could find himself in the mix, too, when his knee is healthy enough to return to practice.
Sarkisian said the younger players will welcome the opportunity to compete for more playing time.
“They embrace it,” Sarkisian said. “We talked about it last night as a team. One guy goes down, the reason they recruited those guys is to come here and play.”
Fellner, who suffered his injury Thursday, was found to have broken the fifth metatarsal in his right foot.
“Most guys, that’s about a four-week recovery,” Sarkisian said. “We know what it is. It’s nothing worse. Hopefully, he’s back sooner rather than later.”
Fellner was the third player to suffer a significant injury in the first week of practice.
Redshirt sophomore running back Deontae Cooper tore the ACL in his right knee Tuesday. On Wednesday, defensive end Hau’oli Jamora sprained a knee that needed offseason ACL surgery and will miss at least two weeks.
Gilliland, a junior from Anaheim, Calif., will remain at UW, but will not be on scholarship, Sarkiskian said.
“We want him to play football and he doesn’t want to,” Sarkisian said. “It’s unfortunate.”
LSU STILL LOADED
Washington quarterback Keith Price said he was aware that LSU’s standout defensive back/special teams player Tyrann Mathieu was kicked off the team Friday after violating team rules. But Price doesn’t expect a “Honey Badger”-less LSU team to be more vulnerable when the Huskies take on the national title-contending Tigers on Sept. 8 at Baton Rouge, La.
“They’re still going to have a good team,” Price said.
Sarkisian said Jamora will not have arthroscopic surgery until next week. … Offensive line coach Dan Cozzetto missed practice for “personal issues,” Sarkisian said. ... Former NFL and Ohio State running back Eddie George watched practice Friday. George will work as an analyst on the Fox College Football pregame show this firstname.lastname@example.org 253-597-8271 blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @DougPaceyTNT