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Injured Cougars return

WSU middle linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis, left, returned to practice Tuesday.  (Christopher Anderson / The Spokesman-Review)
WSU middle linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis, left, returned to practice Tuesday. (Christopher Anderson / The Spokesman-Review)

Guerra, Williams, Ayers back on offensive line

PULLMAN – Washington State University’s football team finally got some positive injury news Tuesday, though maybe not as much as coach Paul Wulff would have liked.

The Cougars (1-5, 0-4 Pac-10) have played the last three games with a makeshift offensive line, necessitated by injuries to starters B.J. Guerra (knee), Zack Williams (ankle) and Steven Ayers (ankle).

Following last week’s bye, the trio returned to practice Tuesday, though only left guard Williams consistently took snaps with the first team.

Guerra rotated with Joe Eppele at right guard while Ayers traded off with freshman Alex Reitnouer, who has been playing guard, at left tackle.

“It felt good to be out there again,” said Ayers, who was injured at USC two games ago. “It’s starting to feel like the beginning of the season again, getting all these guys back.”

Tyson Pencer, who has started the last three games at left tackle, was not in uniform. He’s nursing a sprained left ankle and his rehabilitation was set back slightly last week when he had to miss a couple of days because of illness.

Center Kenny Alfred, who missed the fourth quarter against ASU after suffering a deep cut, had his leg wrapped but didn’t miss a snap.

On the other side of the ball, Bernard Wolfgramm was back at tackle after not practicing the last two weeks with a hip injury. Middle linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis, who had surgery following a staph infection, also took snaps, his right arm wrapped to protect stitches removed Monday.

Wulff said senior defensive end Kevin Kooyman’s knee isn’t improved.

If it doesn’t get better soon, there was a good chance Kooyman, who played just the opener, would apply for an injury redshirt.

Defensive tackle Josh Luapo won’t be back this year after having his torn anterior cruciate ligament surgically repaired last Thursday.

“It was strictly an ACL, no cartilage or anything of that matter, which was positive,” said Wulff of the surgery on the 6-foot, 311-pound junior. “The doctor said the bones were very, very dense and very big.”

But that was the only humorous injury comment by Wulff.

“Right now we’ve gotten too many key injuries to allow us to build (depth), unfortunately,” he said. “We haven’t had any luck in the injury department.”