Jahvid Best wasn’t able to get the MRI on his dislocated left elbow today, so he’s having the test done Monday morning at 6:30 a.m. But coach Jeff Tedford did say that Best was feeling pretty good Sunday. He said Best had feeling and strength in his hand, which he didn’t have after the game Saturday night.
“There are a lot of positive signs, but we still need to get an MRI to find out about the soft tissue damage there,” Tedford said Sunday night after conditioning practice.
Tedford said in the best-case scenario, Best would miss only one game. That’s because after this Saturday’s Arizona State game, the Bears have a bye. That would have Best sitting out three weeks, which isn’t unheard of for an elbow dislocation if the MRI reveals that it’s not too severe.
All that being said, the Bears are moving forward knowing they won’t have Best this Saturday against Arizona State. That means Shane Vereen figures to be the featured back. Running backs coach Ron Gould said Sunday night that he plans on meeting with Vereen just to let him know that he doesn’t have to shoulder more of the burden than is necessary.
“I don’t want the kid to feel like he has pressure on his shoulders,” Gould said. “It’s not about one guy. I will sit down and explain to him that it’s not about just him. We do it as a team.”
While Best is the Bears’ leading rusher and was garnering some early-season momentum as a Heisman Trophy candidate, Vereen has had his share of explosive moments this season as well. Vereen is averaging 70 yards a game on just 8.8 carries. And let’s not forget that Vereen came into the program as a highly sought-after recruit; he was just the second-most sought-after recruit in that year’s freshman class, behind Best.
Gould said redshirt sophomore Tracy Slocum definitely is in the mix to get some carries as well. Freshman Covaughn DeBoskie, who at this point is redshirting the season, will start practicing with the offense instead of the scout team this week just in case. The Bears don’t plan on burning his redshirt year unless they absolutely have to. Some of that will obviously depend on what Best’s MRI reveals tomorrow.
Gould said Best was in pretty good spirits Sunday. He said Best was very engaged in the team’s running backs meetings and offered feedback as the group broke down the film of Saturday’s game.
Moving on, Tedford said he won’t know how the team will divvy up the quarterback reps in practice this week until the coaching staff meets Monday to prepare the game plan for Arizona State. Tedford hinted after Saturday’s game that the quarterback competition between Kevin Riley and Nate Longshore could be back on after Riley continued his struggles against the Rams.
It went unnoticed a bit, but the Bears suffered a blow when defensive end Rulon Davis went down on the last play of the first half Saturday. And that play only took place after half of the Bears were headed up the tunnel for halftime. Apparently, the Rams had called timeout with one second left and got to run one more play. Davis was hurt on that play.
What the injury is remains a little bit of a mystery. Davis never signed a release form allowing any injuries he incurs to be made public, so Tedford isn’t allowed to disclose the ailment. But Davis was on crutches and a walking boot Sunday night, and it appears to either be a foot or ankle injury. Tedford said Davis will be out six weeks. Expect Cameron Jordan to move into the starting lineup, but Keith Browner and Ernie Owusu could get more in the mix now as well.
Tedford said Mark Boskovich performed well in his first career start in place of Chris Guarnero at left guard. Boskovich is the man to replace Guarnero at this point moving forward. Justin Cheadle and Matt Summers-Gavin would be the next in line if Boskovich were to falter.
The loss of Guarnero for the season with a torn tendon in his big toe is a significant one. Guarnero had been playing well, and he also is the backup center if anything were to happen to Alex Mack.
“That’s another piece of the puzzle there that is affected by his absence,” Tedford said. “He was playing very well. He earned that spot there and was solid.”
That’s your Sunday night update. I’ll post the results of Best’s MRI as soon as they are available on Monday.