ACC: Darius Lipford

North Carolina was an enigma in 2013, opening the season 1-5 before finishing as one of the nation’s hottest teams. The Tar Heels look to keep that momentum going as they open spring practice Wednesday. We talked with head coach Larry Fedora about what’s in store for North Carolina as the players return to the practice field for 2014.

You won six of your last seven games, including the bowl. How can that strong finish to 2013 help you as you kick off spring practice this year?

Larry Fedora: It enables you to go into the offseason with a lot of excitement and a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of young kids are understanding now what it takes to win. It took us a while just to learn. We were so young last year with nine seniors on the team, it took us a while for those young kids that were playing to understand what it truly took to win at this level.

So many young players made a big impact in your turnaround last season. Can you see a difference in them this offseason?

[+] EnlargeLarry Fedora
Rob Kinnan/USA TODAY SportsLarry Fedora's North Carolina team ended up the season as one of the nation's hottest teams.
Fedora: They realize the success they had because of how hard they worked, so you can push even harder at this point in the offseason. Nobody wants to start out 1-5 again. A lot of guys learned some great lessons throughout the season and grew up and it makes us very excited about this upcoming season.

You’ve said it will be an open competition at quarterback. What more do you want to see from Marquise Williams, and what do you think Kanler Coker and Mitch Trubisky can add to the mix?

Fedora: Marquise started six games for us, took us to a bowl game and won. He has the advantage because he’s been there, been in the fire. But we still want to have to earn everything we get at every position -- not just his. We have returning starters, and he would be one of them. But you want to have competition at each position. We’re not there yet, but we’re building there. We’re building depth, so guys compete. And if they’re competing, they’ll be that much sharper, play that much better.

You bring in Kanler Coker and Mitch Trubisky and allow them to compete with Marquise. Both are similar to Marquise. All three of them run very well. They all can throw the football. All fit this style of offense well, including Marquise. So we’re excited about the competition we’re having at that position.

Ryan Switzer made such a big impact on special teams last year. How can you try to get him more involved offensively in 2014?

Fedora: There were a lot of ways to get the ball in his hands last year; it’s just that he was one of those young guys that the light didn’t really come on until five or six games into the season. When he settled down and started realizing "I’ve been doing this for a long time, and it just happens to be my first year in college doing it," then he really exploded.

We don’t have to design other ways to get him the ball. Within our offense, we have plenty of ways to get the ball in playmakers’ hands. He’s proven he’s a playmaker and he will get more balls.

The running game struggled at times last year, but you’ve got a good stable of runners returning. How do you see that dynamic shaking out?

Fedora: We were really disappointed in our production in the running game last year, so we’ve really challenged all of those guys at that position. We’ve got to get much more out of them. Start off with T.J. Logan, who was another of those young guys who, as the season went on, he got much better. He had an injury and didn’t really play until the sixth game, and so by the end of the year, he was probably where he would’ve been about midseason. So we’re excited what he’s bringing back.

Khris Francis was another true freshman that played at that position that has a lot of talent that we’re excited about. Romar Morris is back. He probably has the most experience of everybody. Then you bring Elijah Hood into the mix.

Eric Ebron was a unique talent. How can you replace that production offensively? Can one player pick up all the slack?

Fedora: That was a comfort level for our quarterbacks, knowing that you could put the ball up to Ebron and he was probably going to bring it down. Jack Tabb will most likely step into that role. We’ve got Brandon Fritts, an incoming freshman, that is here. We have Eric Albright there; Tyler Alberts is moved into that position. We’re going to have some good competition there this spring. We’re going to have a tight end on the field. Jack has the opportunity to be just as productive as Ebron was, and this enables other receivers on the field to get more balls also.

The defense really struggled against the run last season, but like the rest of the team, it seemed to improve as the season went along. How much better can the run defense be this year?

Fedora: We were a young football team, and we’ve got guys that are going to now have some experience. We’re going into our third year of the defense, and we’ve had stability on that side. Our guys know what’s going on; they know what’s expected of them. We’ve got to be much better against the run. When you look at it and break it down, you’ll see early on we had some missed tackles that really hurt us, and we gave up some big plays. If we can eliminate those things and get much better in those areas, we’re going to be a much better defense.

[+] EnlargeRyan Switzer
Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY SportsRyan Switzer made five punt returns for touchdowns as a freshman, and North Carolina will look for more ways to get him the ball.
As you’ve monitored the offseason thus far, are there a few players you’re particularly excited to get a closer look at this spring?

Fedora: You’ve got M.J. Stewart, who is a young kid that’s come in. Allen Artis is another one on defense. Those guys in the secondary are here. Desmond Lawrence and Brian Walker got quite a bit of playing time last year. T.J. Jiles in the secondary will have to step up. Sam Smiley, who missed the whole season with an injury. Dominique Green was a true freshman who started at safety for us the entire season. We’re going to be so much better in that back end with Tim Scott back, Malik Simmons. These are all young guys who have played quite a bit.

Linebacker with Travis Hughes back with a lot of experience. Norkeithus Otis had a great year last year and I expect him to be even better his senior year. Darius Lipford. Inside, we’re going to count on guys like Ethan Farmer and Shawn Underwood and Justin Thomason that have some big shoes to fill.

We mentioned Switzer’s impact as a punt returner, but it’s tough to repeat a performance like that now that teams are aware of what a weapon he is. How’s he preparing for 2014 on special teams?

Fedora: There’s no doubt. He works hard and he wants to be the best. But he knows now, and I’ve tried to prevent him -- there’s going to be some frustration involved this year until we find out exactly what teams are going to do. The majority of them probably won’t kick to him, and that’s going to cause some frustration. But we’re going to have to find ways to combat that.

ACC's lunchtime links

August, 13, 2013
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GOOD.
Casey Barth, North Carolina's record-setting kicker, is out for the rest of the season, according to the school's latest injury report. Barth was injured on a kickoff in the third quarter of Saturday's 68-50 loss to Georgia Tech last week. Barth holds the school record for field goals and extra points, and has made 80.5 percent of his field goals (66 of 82). He had made all 44 extra points this season, a single-season school record. He is also the school's career leader with 66 field goals, surpassing his brother Connor (54), with a 30-yard field goal at Wake Forest.

North Carolina coach Larry Fedora said Thomas Moore will take over the place-kicking and kickoff duties.

"Casey, losing him is obviously a big loss for our football team," Fedora said. "He's the record holder here at the school for just about everything in the kicking game. He brings a wealth of experience and a lot of confidence to the position.

"When Casey was injured last year, Thomas was the one who was doing all of the kicking at that time. So we feel comfortable with him. He's had plenty of live reps in games throughout his career. Even though we're going to miss Casey, the next guy has gotta step up and play."

Carolina has made 166 consecutive extra points, including a school record 126 by Casey Barth and 42 by Thomas Moore. Barth’s only miss was in the second quarter of the season opener vs. The Citadel in 2009. Barth has made 160 of 161 attempts.

Here are the full injury reports for both teams:

NORTH CAROLINA

Out for the season
VIRGINIA

Out for the season
Out
Doubtful
Probable

ACC injury report: Week 11

November, 9, 2012
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Here are the ACC injury reports for Week 11 from the schools that emailed them:

Clemson

Probable
Out for the season
Miami

Doubtful
Out
Surgery/Out for the season
North Carolina


Out


NC State

Questionable
Out
Out for the season
Virginia

Probable
Questionable
Doubtful
Out
Out for the season

ACC injury report: Week 9

October, 26, 2012
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Here are the ACC injury reports for Week 9 from the schools that emailed them:

DUKE

Probable
Questionable
Doubtful


Out
Out for season


FLORIDA STATE


Out


Out for season
MARYLAND

Probable
Questionable
Out
Out for season

NORTH CAROLINA

Out
NORTH CAROLINA STATE

Out for season

ACC injury report: Week 8

October, 19, 2012
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Here are the ACC injury reports for Week 8 from the schools that emailed them:

CLEMSON

Out for the season
DUKE

Probable
Questionable
Out
Out for season


FLORIDA STATE


Out


Out for season
MARYLAND

Probable
Questionable
Doubtful
Out
Out for season

MIAMI

Doubtful
Surgery/Out for season
NORTH CAROLINA

Out
NORTH CAROLINA STATE

Probable
VIRGINIA

Probable
Questionable


Out
Out for season
VIRGINIA TECH

Probable
Out
Out for season

ACC injury report: Week 7

October, 12, 2012
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Here are the ACC injury reports for Week 7 from the schools that emailed them:

DUKE

Probable
Questionable
Doubtful
Out
FLORIDA STATE

Out
Out for season
MARYLAND

Out for season
Out
Probable
MIAMI

Probable
Out
Surgery/Out for season
NORTH CAROLINA

Out
VIRGINIA

Out
Questionable
Probable
Out for season
VIRGINIA TECH

Out for season
Out
Doubtful

Week 6 injury reports

October, 5, 2012
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Here are the ACC injury reports from the schools that emailed them:

CLEMSON

WILL PLAY

WR Sammy Watkins (virus)

C Dalton Freeman (thumb)

PROBABLE

OG Kalon Davis (hamstring)

OUT

WR Martavis Bryant (groin)

RB D.J. Howard (shoulder)

OUT FOR SEASON

DB Martin Jenkins (hernia)

CB Tony McNeal (torn ACL)

LB Justin Parker (groin)

DUKE

PROBABLE

LB David Helton (leg)

QUESTIONABLE

CB Lee Butler (lower body)

QB Sean Renfree (arm)

DT Jamal Wallace (lower body)

OUT

CB Jared Boyd (leg)

S Brandon Braxton (upper body)

LB Kelby Brown (leg)

NG Jamal Bruce (foot)

TE Braxton Deaver (leg)

DE Justin Foxx (hand)

S Chris Tavarez (leg)

OUT FOR SEASON

TE Jack Farrell (leg)

WR Blair Holliday

DE Allen Jackson (shoulder)

S Corbin McCarthy (shoulder)

S Taylor Sowell (leg)

FLORIDA STATE

OUT

DB Justin Bright (head)

LB Ukeme Eligwe (hand)

OL Garrett Faircloth (hip)

OL Daniel Foose (back)

DT Moses McCray (head)

DT Derrick Mitchell (back)

OL Trey Pettis (head)

OUT FOR THE SEASON

DB Colin Blake (shoulder)

DE Chris Casher (knee)

TE Dan Hicks (knee)

DE Brandon Jenkins (foot)

DT Jacobbi McDaniel (ankle)

RB Mario Pender (sports hernia)

MARYLAND

PROBABLE

WR Kerry Boykins (hamstring)

LB Kenneth Tate (knee)

DL Joe Vellano (foot)

QUESTIONABLE

DB Matt Robinson (groin)

OUT

PK/P Nick Ferrara (hip)

OUT FOR SEASON

QB C.J. Brown (knee)

DL Andre Monroe (knee)

MIAMI

OUT

DL Curtis Porter (upper extremity)

DB Rayshawn Jenkins (upper extremity)

DL Olsen Pierre (upper extremity)

OL Ben Jones (lower extremity)

OUT FOR THE SEASON

WR Malcolm Lewis (lower extremity)

LB Ramon Buchanan (lower extremity)

LS Sean McNally (lower extremity)

NORTH CAROLINA

OUT

RB Connor Gonet

OL T.J. Leifheit

LB Darius Lipford

RB Travis Riley

PK Miller Snyder

WR T.J. Thorpe

NC STATE

OUT

OT Rob Crisp (lower back)

OG Andrew Wallace (foot)

RB James Washington (ankle)

OUT FOR THE SEASON

OG Zach Allen (foot)

DT Jacob Kahut (knee)

LB Michael Peek (knee)

VIRGINIA

PROBABLE

OT Oday Aboushi (upper extremity)

DT Will Hill (medical)

S Brandon Phelps (upper extremity)

DOUBTFUL

WR Tim Smith (lower extremity)

OUT

DE Billy Schautz (lower extremity)

DT Buddy Ruff (medical)

S Darius Lee (lower extremity)

OUT FOR THE SEASON

S Pablo Alvarez

LB Adam Caplinger

DT Marco Jones

S David Marrs

WR Mario Nixon

VIRGINIA TECH

PROBABLE

DT Luther Maddy (ankle)

WR Christian Reeves (hamstring)

G David Wang (ankle)

DOUBTFUL

RB Tony Gregory (knee)

OUT

WR Joshua Stanford (knee)

OUT FOR SEASON

OT Nick Acree (knee)

WR D.J. Coles (knee)

ACC injury reports: Week 2

September, 7, 2012
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Here are the injury reports from the schools that emailed them (ACC schools don't have to give injury reports for nonconference games, and not all schools release them to the media anyway):

DUKE

PROBABLE
OUT
OUT FOR SEASON
FLORIDA STATE

OUT
OUT FOR THE SEASON
MARYLAND

OUT FOR THE SEASON
OUT
QUESTIONABLE
PROBABLE
MIAMI

OUT
NORTH CAROLINA

OUT
VIRGINIA TECH

OUT FOR SEASON
OUT
QUESTIONABLE

Heels lose LB Lipford for season

July, 19, 2012
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North Carolina junior linebacker Darius Lipford suffered an injury to his left anterior cruciate ligament during a rehab session last week and will miss the 2012 season, the school reported.

Lipford, who started four games at outside linebacker in 2011, originally injured the knee in December during the Tar Heels' loss to Missouri in the Independence Bowl. He will undergo reconstructive surgery next month.

Lipford will redshirt this season and have two years of eligibility remaining.

UNC injury updates

December, 28, 2011
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North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner had successful surgery on his left ankle to remove an anterior bone spur and a posterior accessory bone Wednesday, according to the school. Renner is expected to make a full recovery. His status will be updated at the beginning of spring practice.

Renner’s ankle condition became an issue in mid-July, approximately three weeks before the start of UNC’s training camp. After consulting with the UNC sports medicine staff, Renner and his family made the decision to play with a hinged ankle brace and postpone surgery until after the season. In his first season as a starter, Renner completed 239 of 350 attempts for 3,086 yards and a single-season school record 26 touchdowns.

In other injury-related news for UNC, sophomore linebacker Darius Lipford tore the ACL in his left knee and junior Donte Paige-Moss tore the ACL in his right knee in the Independence Bowl. Both players will miss spring practice. A further update on their status will be available after surgeries are performed in the coming weeks.
You are going to argue about this. How do I know? Because I'm still arguing with myself over it ...

[+] EnlargeLuke Kuechly
Michael Tureski/Icon SMILuke Kuechly leads a deep group of Boston College linebackers.
1. Boston College: Luke Kuechly is one of the best in the country, but he’s not alone. The Eagles also have Kevin Pierre-Louis, who ranked second nationally among all freshmen in tackles per game last season with 7.15 -- ninth in the ACC. It won’t be easy to replace Mark Herzlich, on or off the field, but Steele Divitto played in 11 games last season, and Nick Clancy and Will Thompson both saw time on the second team.

2. Florida State: The Noles had to replace two starters, including Kendall Smith, the team’s second-leading tackler, last season, and Mister Alexander, but the upcoming talent could be even better. Nigel Bradham led the team with 98 tackles and five pass breakups last season, and Christian Jones, Jeff Luc, Telvin Smith and Vince Williams will also be competing for playing time.

3. Miami: Sean Spence, who has 30 career starts, should be one of the best in the country, and Ramon Buchanon, another senior, also returns. The Canes have five other linebackers with experience in Kelvin Cain, who started seven games, Jordan Futch, who had a great spring and will see the field, Tyrone Cornelius, Shayon Green and C.J. Holton.

4. North Carolina: Kevin Reddick, who led the Tar Heels with 74 tackles last season, returns for his third season as starter. Zach Brown is also a returning starter with game-changing capabilities, and there is plenty of depth with Dion Guy, Darius Lipford, Ebele Okakpu and Herman Davidson. Junior college transfer Fabby Desir could also have an impact.

5. NC State: Audie Cole and Terrell Manning have combined for 39 career starts, and Cole fared well this spring moving to the middle to replace Nate Irving. With the return of Sterling Lucas, Dwayne Maddox and Colby Jackson, there is plenty of experience, but not quite as much depth as some other programs.

6. Georgia Tech: The Jackets return both starters in Steven Sylvester and Julian Burnett. There is no shortage of depth with Jeremy Attaochu, Quayshawn Nealey, Brandon Watts, Albert Rocker, Malcolm Munroe and Daniel Drummond.

7. Clemson: This group has a lot of potential, especially if true freshmen Tony Steward and Stephone Anthony make an immediate impact. There’s no question they’ll be given a chance, but the Tigers already have a good group with Corico Hawkins, Quandon Christian and Jonathan Willard.

8. Virginia Tech: It seems like this rotation has been in flux for a while now. The Hokies’ leading tackler returns in Bruce Taylor, Barquell Rivers had 96 tackles as a starter in 2009 but was injured last season, and there are several young players adding to the competition. Chase Williams, Tariq Edwards, Telvion Clark and Jack Tyler are only a few. Whip linebacker Jeron Gouveia-Winslow will have to earn his spot back over Alonzo Tweedy, Dominique Patterson and Nick Dew.

9. Maryland: The Terps were hit hard here with the losses of Alex Wujciak (381 career tackles) and Adrian Moten (14.5 career sacks). Demetrius Hartsfield returns with 20 career starts, and there are four lettermen returning including Darin Drakeford, Isaiah Ross, David Mackall and Bradley Johnson.

10. Wake Forest: Kyle Wilber’s move to outside linebacker will give this position a boost, as he led the Deacs with 14.5 tackles for loss and six sacks last season. His backup is Gelo Orange (22 tackles). The Deacs also have Tristan Dorty, Joey Ehrmann, Mike Olsen, Scott Betros, Riley Haynes and Justin Jackson.

11. Virginia: Starters LaRoy Reynolds and Ausar Walcott both return, but neither has started more than 11 career games. Junior Steve Greer has prior starting experience but played mainly as a reserve last season. Adam Taliaferro, Conner McCartin, Tucker Windle and LoVante Battle are also in the mix for playing time.

12. Duke: Kelby Brown is the lone returning starter, but he’s a promising young player who led the nation last season as a freshman in fumbles recovered. He missed spring ball while recovering from a knee injury, but is expected to start with Tyree Glover or Kevin Rojas.
Tags:

Boston College Eagles, Duke Blue Devils, Virginia Tech Hokies, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, North Carolina Tar Heels, Clemson Tigers, Florida State Seminoles, North Carolina State Wolfpack, Maryland Terrapins, Virginia Cavaliers, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Miami Hurricanes, ACC, Jeron Gouveia-Winslow, Vince Williams, Kevin Reddick, Barquell RIvers, Dion Guy, Sterling Lucas, Herman Davidson, Tristan Dorty, Steven Sylvester, Demetrius Hartsfield, David Mackall, Jordan Futch, Adrian Moten, Ramon Buchanon, Terrell Manning, Tariq Edwards, Sean Spence, Malcolm Munroe, Kendall Smith, Nigel Bradham, Darin Drakeford, Alonzo Tweedy, Bruce Taylor, Zach Brown, Gelo Orange, Nate Irving, Dwayne Maddox, Steve Greer, Audie Cole, Nick Clancy, Mark Herzlich, C.J. Holton, Colby Jackson, Alex Wujciak, Will Thompson, Tyree Glover, Luke Kuechly, Shayon Green, Ausar Walcott, Julian Burnett, LaRoy Reynolds, Joey Ehrmann, Jeff Luc, Christian Jones, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Daniel Drummond, Kevin Rojas, Corico Hawkins, Brandon Watts, Nick Dew, LoVante Battle, Quandon Christian, Justin Jackson, Chase Williams, Jonathan Willard, Telvion Clark, Kelvin Cain, Riley Haynes, Darius Lipford, Mister Alexander, Kelby Brown, Jack Tyler, Telvin Smith, Stephone Anthony, Tony Steward, Fabby Desir, Dominique Patterson, 2011 ACC position rankings, 2011 ACC summer position rankings, Bradley Johnson, Steele Divitto, Tyrone Cornelius, Ebele Okakpu, Kyle Wisber, Mike Olsen, Scott Betros, Jeremy Attaochu, Quayshawn Nealey, Albert Rocker, Isiah Ross, Adam Taliaferro, Conner McCartin, Tucker Windle

North Carolina spring wrap

May, 5, 2011
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2010 overall record: 8-5

2010 conference record: 4-4

Returning starters

Offense: 6, defense: 6, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

WR Dwight Jones, WR Erik Highsmith, OT James Hurst, OG Jonathan Cooper, C Cam Holland, DE Quinton Coples, DT Jared McAdoo, DE Donte Paige-Moss, DT Tydreke Powell, LB Kevin Reddick, CB Charles Brown

Key losses

QB T.J. Yates, TE Zack Pianalto, TB Johnny White, LB Quan Sturdivant, LB Bruce Carter, CB Kendric Burney, S Deunta Williams, S Da’Norris Searcy

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Johnny White (720 yards)

Passing: T.J. Yates (3,418 yds)

Receiving: Dwight Jones* (946 yds)

Tackles: Kevin Reddick* (74)

Sacks: Quinton Coples* (10)

Interceptions: Da'Norris Searcy (4)

Spring answers

1. The offensive line should be the best since Butch Davis arrived in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels had to replace two starters in OT Mike Ingersoll and OG Alan Pelc, but Travis Bond has earned the starting job at right guard and Brennan Williams at right tackle. The left side of the line will be particularly strong with guard Jonathan Cooper (22 career starts), and OT James Hurst. This is also a large group, averaging 319 pounds.

2. There’s depth on the defensive line. There was enough depth this spring to move Coples from tackle back to end, his natural position. The Tar Heels have Paige-Moss at right end, Jordan Nix and Powell at tackle, and junior college transfer Sylvester Williams was pushing Nix for the starting job. Jared McAdoo has played both positions, and the staff has four tackles it feels good about.

3. Bryn Renner has taken over. Heading into the spring, Davis wouldn’t anoint Renner his 2011 starter just yet. Now, there’s no question it’s Renner’s job, as none of the other candidates came close to him this spring. True freshman Marquise Williams went through a major learning curve, and A.J. Blue and Braden Hanson didn’t close the gap.

Fall questions

1. Looking for a linebacker. Outside linebacker Zach Brown and middle linebacker Kevin Reddick have starting jobs locked up, but Herman Davidson and Darius Lipford will take their competition into summer camp.

2. Helping hands at tight end. Last year, 79 of the receptions were to tight ends, and Ryan Taylor and Zack Pianalto were two of the top three receivers on the team (combined for 66 catches last year). The staff recruited well at the position, but those players didn’t enroll early. Nelson Hurst, Christian Wilson and Sean Fitzpatrick were the lead candidates this spring.

3. Revamped secondary. All four starters must be replaced, but Jabari Price started the final four games at corner last season. There are six candidates for the safety positions, but Brown, Jonathan Smith and Brian Gupton all missed last season because of the NCAA investigation. Senior Matt Merletti emerged as a leader last year, safety Gene Robinson is in the mix, and safety Josh Hunter had a good spring game with six tackles and an interception. Tre Boston moved from corner to safety.

UNC injury report vs. ECU

September, 30, 2010
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The key here is starting linebacker Quan Sturdivant and running back Johnny White, who are both listed as questionable. UNC can't afford to be missing any more players, let alone those two contributors.

Out
Giovani Bernard TB Knee
Brendon Felder WR Knee
Tommy Heffernan LB Shoulder
Shane Mularkey LB Shoulder

Doubtful
Matt Kolojejchick RB Illness
Darius Lipford LB Concussion

Questionable

Hunter Furr RB Knee
TJ Leifheit OL Ankle
Quan Sturdivant LB Thigh
Johnny White TB Ankle

Probable

AJ Blue QB Knee
Jared McAdoo DT Illness
Devon Ramsay FB Ankle

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