We’re doing this a little different today because we are in the middle of our position previews (today’s spot in the crosshairs: receivers). We’ll post our practice summary first and then put up the story for tomorrow’s paper. So read on, we’ve got news on James Montgomery’s injury and other news and notes.
• You know it’s not a good day when the head football coach has to meet with the two trainers right after practice. But that was the situation Friday morning, when coach Paul Wulff spoke with Bill Drake and Brian Oelke before heading over to see us. In actuality, the news was good, especially considering the nature of Montgomery’s collision Thursday. The junior running back (shown above) suffered a grade 0ne (the least significant) sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee that should keep him out for seven to 14 days. “We’re talking days, not weeks,” Drake said, and that’s good news for WSU. “We’re just real fortunate it wasn’t serious and we envision we’ll get him back within the next four or five days,” Wulff said. “Hopefully, not miss a beat.” Montgomery wasn’t the only Cougar missing from the helmet and shoulder pads practice. Drake, head of athletic medicine, doesn’t think at this time any of the injuries will cause a long-term problem, with the possible exception of one. That’s middle linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis, who is having an MRI done on a hot spot in his right foot. Drake compared Hoffman-Ellis’ injury to that of Derrick Low a few years ago. Hoffman-Ellis, who was in a boot Friday, may miss 1-to-2 weeks or it could be longer, depending on the MRI. With Hoffman-Ellis out, freshman Darren Markle has been running with the ones. … Of the four receivers who are out, Drake said Jeffrey Solomon (back) and Daniel Blackledge (leg) could be back as early as Tuesday, while Jeshua Anderson (hamstring) and Johnny Forzani (foot) will be a little longer. Drake expects just about everybody to be ready to go Tuesday of the Stanford week, which is when game prep starts. After looking around the Pac-10 it seems the Cougar injury situation is as good as can be expected this time of year – and much better than the past here. Drake credits the way the camp is being run, with short, focused practices and scrimmages helping to keep the injuries to a minimum.
• Getting back to the players on the field, Dwight Tardy opened practice by running in front of the assembled group prior to stretching and screaming. His attempt to get his teammates fired up – he yelled “defense ain’t ready, defense ain’t ready” before getting the offense to scream – seemed to work, at least in the scrimmages. The defense showed it was ready, dominating the team portions of practice. In a red-zone situational scrimmage, a Marshall Lobbestael pass aimed at Colin Huemmer was deflected by corner Daniel Simmons. Safety Xavier Hicks dove and came up with the interception. The offense took three cracks at the end zone and was turned away each time. Next came a 2-minute drill. The one offense moved just far enough against the second defense for Nico Grasu to boom through a 54-yard field goal – it would have been good from 60 – but the two offense wasn’t as successful. Another Lobbestael pass toward Huemmer was picked by Chima Nwachukwu, who cut in front of the receiver on a deep post. … The offense did have its moments, including a long touchdown pass from Lobbestael to Kevin Norrell in an earlier seven-on-seven drill. … “We’re late in camp,” Wulff said, his voice a little hoarse. “And we’re playing like that. We’re playing a little flat and not real spirited. We are working and we’re working hard. It’s very typical and we’re not probably as crisp as we would want to be all the time.”
• It looks like LeAndre Daniels has moved ahead of Tyree Toomer as the Cougars’ fifth defensive back in their nickel scheme. … Travis Long continued to run with the ones at left defensive end. … Andy Mattingly is back at practice, but is still not doing team drills. … Freshman running back Carl Winston has taken more snaps with the twos. With Marcus Richmond out – he had shoulder pads on today but did not go in the team drills – Winston has picked up some time. … WSU will practice at 8 a.m. – the team has some Lentil Festival commitments – and 3 p.m. tomorrow. Sunday’s practice time has been changed from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
• That’s it for now. We’ll be back soon with our receivers story. Until then …