The Maryland football team’s linebacking corps, already thinned by injury, will be further depleted for Saturday’s game at Wake Forest, as outside linebacker Alex Twine will miss the contest with a shoulder injury that could threaten the future of his season.
A special teams guru who was elevated into the starting “Sam” linebacker role after Matt Robinson’s rotator cuff injury – unrelated to the two labrum issues he suffered earlier in his career as a Terrapins safety – Twine twice left last weekend’s home win over Virginia with what appeared to be a wrist issue. But Maryland’s injury report, released Thursday, revealed the injury to be localized to Twine’s labrum.
“We’ll see how that heals for a couple weeks, then see if he can go,” Coach Randy Edsall said, adding that further evaluation will determine whether Twine will need season-ending surgery.
True freshman Cavon Walker backed up Twine on Saturday and figures to elevate into the starting role as Maryland guns for bowl eligibility in Winston-Salem, N.C. If Edsall chooses a nickel package against Wake Forest’s frequent three-wide receiver sets, the Terps could avoid thrusting Walker into an unfamiliar situation by moving cornerback Will Likely inside and Alvin Hill to the boundary, like they did against the Cavaliers.
“I feel good about [the depth at linebacker],” Edsall said. “Cavon’s young, and now what happens is Yannick Ngakoue has to go in there. They’re kids who have a lot of ability, but they’re young. They’ve got to get some experience somehow, and now they’ll get that opportunity to get that. They have talent. What it does, it makes us better in the long run. Those guys will get more reps, more experience, more ready to play. I think those two guys will do fine.”
Ngakoue, another true freshman from Friendship Collegiate like Walker, will replace outside linebacker Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil, formerly the backup “Will” behind Marcus Whitfield. Shawn Petty, Abner Logan and Bradley Johnson are serviceable reserves as well.
“What it forces you to do, this is why it’s such a personnel game, you always got to be evaluating your personnel and saying hey, here’s the what-ifs, we’re going to try to get guys work at certain positions, or having a plan in case something happens,” Edsall said. “The good thing is, we really tried to anticipate those things and hope nothing does happen, but I think our guys really understand that if someone goes down, they really have to step it up, take advantage of the opportunity.”
As Edsall announced earlier this week, Cudjoe-Virgil will undergo surgery on Friday and miss the road trip while recovering. Otherwise, injured defenders Twine, Robinson, Dexter McDougle (season-ending shoulder surgery), Jeremiah Johnson (fractured toe) will travel.
Johnson, whose estimated timetable pegs him back around Maryland’s second bye week on Nov. 2, followed up with a foot doctor on Thursday, but Edsall had little update beyond that. Both he and Robinson could conceivably return against Syracuse on Nov. 9 as the Terps begin the second half of their conference schedule.
Other injury notes:
>> Fullback Tyler Cierski, out to date with a calf injury, has begun individual work this week and progressed into team repetitions. His status for next weekend’s Clemson game is uncertain.
>> Tight end Dave Stinebaugh (knee), offensive lineman Silvano Altamirano (back) and defensive lineman Zeke Riser (ankle) are listed as probable.
>> Offensive lineman Nick Klemm had his walking boot removed and will start full weight-bearing jogging on the treadmill on Friday.
>> Freshman DeAndre Lane suffered a concussion during practice and will miss Saturday’s trip.
>> Wide receiver Tyrek Cheeseboro (concussion) remains out with no timetable for his return.
>> Backup kicker Adam Greene (quad) resumed kicking activities on Thursday afternoon.
>> McDougle continues to work his range of motion, and has next spring’s pro day in his sights.
>> Maryland will wear white helmets, white jerseys and red pants. Wide receiver Deon Long (offense), linebacker Cole Farrand (defense) and kicker Brad Craddock (special teams) will be game captains this week, as chosen by Edsall’s staff based off practice performance this week. Running back Albert Reid and linebacker Marcus Whitfield will carry the American and Maryland flags, respectively.
Quarterback Dustin Dailey (offense), linebacker Jalen Brooks (defense) and linebacker Marc Rodriguez (special teams) earned scout team players of the week.