It only took one drive for the Rams to get their first bite from the injury bug this season. After two rushes for eighteen yards and two receptions for eleven, Donnell Alexander left the field with a hand injury and did not return. Early reports that he would need season-ending surgery were dismissed on Tuesday when he suited up in full pads for practice; but it is still not clear when he will be ready to return.
Coach McElwain told Kelly Lyell of the Coloradoan he would not rush Alexander back into the line of fire.
"I've seen a lot of people do a lot of different things, and one thing I will never do to one of my players is put him in harm's way," McElwain said. "In other words, if it's something that could be debilitating for life, I'm not going to do that. It's not worth it."
After Alexander left Sunday's game, co-starter Chris Nwoke struggled to produce, rushing for only six yards on six carries. Nwoke did not look like the running back who rushed for over 1000 yards in 2011, and will most likely lose carries to breakout player Kapri Bibbs. In his first game with Colorado State after transferring from Snow College, Bibbs showed his balance of quickness and power rushing for seventy yards and two touchdowns on fifteen carries. He did fumble a ball that was returned for a Colorado touchdown, but he should still see the bulk of snaps against Tulsa. Expect about a 60/30/10 split between Bibbs, Nwoke, and most likely reserve running back Davon Riddick.
Also injured in the loss was receiver Joe Hansley. Hansley injured his ankle late in the game, and while it does not appear to be serious, his chance of playing against Tulsa seems doubtful. Hansley was a big reason Colorado State was in the game late against Colorado. He had 182 all purpose yards including a punt return for a touchdown.
Fortunately, the Rams will most likely return 2012 receiving leader Charles Lovett. After severely bruising his knee during fall camp, McElwain and Lovett are optimistic he will return on Saturday. Whether he will return to his punt return duties as well remains to be seen. Lovett is the number one punt returner on the depth chart followed by Hansley and freshman Robert Ruiz. After Hansley left the game Sunday with his ankle injury, Ruiz fumbled the one punt return he fielded.
The Rams appear to be healthy at all other positions, and will need it if they want to get their season back on track against an angry Tulsa squad.
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