When Virginia Tech linebacker Tariq Edwards initially underwent surgery to stabilize a stress fracture in his left shin in March, he was intent on returning to full health by the time preseason began. But after hobbling his way through the Hokies’ first practice of the fall Tuesday evening, Edwards is begrudgingly accepting a new reality.

“First game, that’s the next goal now,” he said.

Count Coach Frank Beamer among those troubled by the slow progress. Edwards and wide receiver D.J. Coles (torn PCL) each opened Virginia Tech’s training camp with a significant limp to their step and their status for the team’s season opener against Georgia Tech on Sept. 3 will likely be a hot topic over the next month.

“I’m concerned,” Beamer said.

“We’ve got three weeks here and we’ll see where we are when we go through that. I know [head athletic trainer] Mike Goforth has got a plan going into how much work they should do and so forth. It’s two really quality players that can’t do things full tilt right now.”

Edwards reiterated after practice that it’s soreness in his left knee that is now the problem, even though he had a rod inserted into his left tibia. He characterized himself as 85 percent healthy at this point, but defensive coordinator Bud Foster was more cautious.

“I fully expect we will get Tariq back. When? I don’t know,” he said. “I was kind of discouraged today by his inability to run.”

Edwards revealed that he began feeling pain in his shin as early as Virginia Tech’s loss to Clemson in October last season. “I started seeing everybody else going down, so I decided to fight through it,” Edwards said.

He ended the year as the only opening day starting linebacker to play all 14 games, finishing with a career-high 72 tackles, 3.5 sacks and two interceptions at the backer position.

To compensate for Edwards’s loss Tuesday, Foster began training camp with senior Bruce Taylor lined up as the first team backer and redshirt junior Jack Tyler at middle linebacker.

“I still got a long way in order to get to myself because I really didn’t feel like me unless I was running forward,” Edwards said. “As far as cuts, especially at linebacker, you’ve got to be able to cut and move side to side and that’s where most of my pain comes in.

“I’m not really worried but I just need to keep fighting, getting this leg stronger and stronger.” . . .

In other injury news, former All Met linebacker Devin Vandyke (South County) will not participate in training camp after recently undergoing minor knee surgery. Freshman defensive lineman Nigel Williams will also not take part in preseason practice due to shoulder surgery.