The Kansas State Wildcats opened a portion of football practice to reporters on Monday.
Here are some observations from the team’s first preseason camp under new coach Chris Klieman:
Another injury at linebacker
K-State was already shorthanded at linebacker without returning starter Justin Hughes, who tore an ACL during the spring. But the unit is dealing with even more injuries.
Cody Fletcher, a junior linebacker who many expect to provide depth behind Elijah Sullivan and Da’Quan Patton, watched Monday’s practice from the sideline with a medical boot wrapped around his right foot.
The extent of his injury is unknown, but it casts some doubt on his availability for the season opener against Nicholls on Aug. 31.
If he is unable to play, the Wildcats will need to look elsewhere for backup linebackers. Daniel Green, Eric Gallon and Khalid Duke could all be asked to play if Fletcher is unable to help off the sideline.
Fletcher played in 12 games last season and made 12 tackles while seeing most of his action on special teams.
No sign of Adam Harter
The Wildcats were also down a contributor at fullback.
Adam Harter, a senior from Olathe, was not in attendance Monday. He has been dealing with injuries throughout preseason camp and needed to be driven off the field in a cart at one point last week.
A team spokesman said he had no injury news to report on Harter, but his absence is a potential blow to a valuable position in Chris Klieman’s new offense. Klieman likes to use fullbacks and tight ends in most formations. So much so that he asks them to play interchangeably.
Harter was expected to compete for a starting spot after playing in 12 games for the Wildcats last season.
If Harter is out for an extended period of time, K-State will need to ask more of Jax Dineen, Luke Sowa, Mason Barta and Kirk Coomes at fullback.
It wasn’t all bad news on the injury front, though. K-State defensive ends Reggie Walker and Bronson Massie, who missed the beginning of preseason camp because of minor injuries, were both full participants on Monday.
It seems like Chris Herron’s move to receiver is more than simply an experiment.
When reporters last viewed K-State football practice, Herron began the day passing with quarterbacks and then spent some time catching the ball with receivers. He wore a green, no-contact jersey the entire time. His routine was different on Monday.
Herron, a 6-foot-2 freshman from Houston, wore a purple jersey and spent the entire workout as a receiver. He may have a long-term future at quarterback, but it seems like he is preparing to help in the short term at a different position this season.
Update at running back
The Wildcats will try to spread carries around to a handful of new running backs this season, and it seems like a rotation is beginning to form.
James Gilbert led the way on drills at this practice, followed by Harry Trotter and then Jordon Brown. Don’t be surprised if the pecking order at running back remains that way for the first game. Joe Ervin, a 5-foot-8 freshman, might also see action immediately and help provide depth.
K-State players displayed high energy as practice began on Monday, despite high temperatures. The Wildcats have been working hard since the beginning of the month, but they aren’t slowing down. They danced to rap music during warm ups and then got right after it when they broke into position drills.