GREENVILLE, N.C. - While East Carolina took advantage of plenty of cloud cover and cooler temperatures Wednesday afternoon and produced a lively full-pad two-hour workout on Hight Field inside the Cliff Moore Practice Complex, the news was not as positive on the program's injury report.
After turning in a physical two-a-day effort Monday and following with a practice that fourth-year head coach Skip Holtz described as unemotional and quiet Tuesday, the Pirates responded with a spirited effort during the session which incorporated many elements of a full-fledged scrimmage and special teams work.
“Right now this team is tired," Holtz said. "They’re beat up and they’re sore. We have many guys with a lot of bumps and bruises who are pushing through many different things. But, I thought we had a pretty spirited practice today. They’re working really hard and I think their attitude is great. “
Holtz announced that projected starting running back Dominique Lindsay and senior defensive tackle Brandon Setzer are both facing knee surgery. Lindsay, who suffered his injury Tuesday night, will be out an unspecified amount of time while Setzer is lost for the entire season.
“I’m absolutely sick for a guy like Dominique who is a senior and has really busted his tail," Holtz added. "He put his heart, soul and energy into the winter workouts, the spring and the summer. I know that he’s really devastated. But he’s part of a big family right now and everybody is going to kind of put their arm around him. We’re just going to have to wait and see where this thing goes after the surgery.”
Lindsay, a true senior, played in all 13 games a year ago and rushed for 205 yards on 66 carries. He also scored a personal-best five touchdowns, two coming against Boise State during ECU's 41-38 Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl victory. Setzer opened the 2007 campaign on the offensive line but was moved back to his familiar defensive front position prior to the N.C. State game and was credited with three tackles in four contests.
In addition to Lindsay and Setzer, Holtz also expressed a concern with other mounting injuries that has slowed development in some areas, most notably on the offensive side of the ball. A total of five players, three of those members of the preseason depth chart, missed Wednesday and prior practices because of injuries. In addition, the Pirates are also unsure when sophomore defensive tackle Linval Joseph and junior kicker Ben Hartman will return.
“I know we have lots of guys banged up right now and those do pile up as we get into two-a-days," Holtz said. "Fred Hicks is slowly coming back from a nagging ankle injury but he has really been limited up to this point as to what he can do. Linval Joseph has also really been limited in what he can do coming off his back surgery. At this point, we just don’t know how much we’ll have them early in the season.”
ECU opened the workout with brief individual drill and special teams periods before moving quickly to an extended team-on-team session, which featured plenty of contact but no tackling, in preparation for their second scrimmage of camp scheduled for Saturday afternoon at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Included in the team work was an emphasis on redzone production and a practice-closing goal line drills.
NOTES: Senior OL Fred Hicks (ankle), senior RB Derrick Jones (knee), junior RB J.R. Rogers (ribs), redshirt freshman WR D.J. McFadden (ankle) and true freshman OL Josh Clark (back) were the five offensive players who did not participate in Wednesday's practice ... All four are listed as questionable to doubtful for Saturday's scrimmage ... On a positive note, true freshman WR Jacobi Jenkins returned to action Wednesday ... Junior RB Darnell Ballard, a walk-on from Fayetteville, experienced snaps with the No. 2 unit during the session while sophomore DT Josh Smith participated with the No. 1 unit on the other side of the ball ... Thursday's Practice Time: 3:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.; Season Opener: Aug. 30 vs. Virginia Tech (12 noon) in Charlotte, N.C. (Bank of America Stadium).