Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three seasons at the Baltimore Sun and eight at the Star Tribune, before switching to the college football beat. He’s a Faribault, Minn., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He covered Jim Wacker’s Gophers for the Minnesota Daily and also wrote about USC, UCLA and the Rose Bowl for the Riverside Press-Enterprise before getting this chance to cover football again.
Email Joe to talk about the Gophers.
A week off have has given the Gophers a chance to heal heading into Saturday's game against Northwestern.
Coach Jerry Kill said Tuesday that the team held 12 or 13 players out of practice last week, but several returned Sunday, and several others are due back today. David Cobb was among the players who sat out when the team practiced last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
"He was banged up a little after the Michigan game, and we didn’t do a lot with him until Sunday," Kill said. "But Sunday he was full-speed again. He went back to work."
The bye week helped quarterback Mitch Leidner, too. He practiced last week, but the Gophers were careful to make sure he could heal his turf toe and sprained MCL.
Leidner, in fact, busted off an 85-yard run in last Thursday's practice.
"We wouldn’t play him if it was a risk or anything like that," Kill said. "I thought he moved well [against Michigan]. I don’t see anything different in practice."
The Gophers released their official injury report and depth chart Thursday evening, and there were no surprises. Quarterback Mitch Leidner (knee and toe injuries), tight end Maxx Williams (calf) and wide receiver Logan Hutton (unspecified) are all listed as questionable.
Gophers coach Jerry Kill said Tuesday that Mitch Leidner remains the team's No. 1 quarterback but just needs to get healthy, adding that he's not sure how long Leidner will be out.
Kill said backup Chris Streveler will need to be ready again this week. Leidner hasn't been able to do much this week with his injuries, but Kill said he hasn't ruled him out for Saturday's game at Michigan.
Leidner sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee Sept. 6 and developed turf toe in his left foot on Sept. 13.
Kill also said Marcus Jones is out with a broken hand and that Maxx Williams is questionable with a calf injury and won't practice today.
Defensive end Alex Keith (knee injury) will return to practice Tuesday for the first time since getting hurt in the season opener. Kill said he's not sure if Keith will be ready to play at Michigan.
Add Maxx Williams and KJ Maye to the growing list of injured Gophers players.
Coach Jerry Kill said on his weekly radio show (100.3-FM) that Williams and Maye were both questionable for Saturday's game against San Jose State. That means the Gophers could be without two of their top receiving targets.
Kill did not specify what injuries they have. For Williams, I'm told it's not a recurrence of his knee injury, but he did not participate in Wednesday's practice.
Kill said left guard Zac Epping is questionable, presumably with a high-ankle sprain, as he's been playing with that. Kill also said wide receiver Logan Hutton is out with an unspecified injury.
As for quarterback Mitch Leidner, Kill noted that he wasn't moving as well Tuesday so the team backed off Wednesday. He was able to run around Thursday morning and is expected to practice today.
"We’re certainly not going to play that young man unless he’s 100 percent," Kill said.
Here's a quick rundown on the news from Coach Jerry Kill's press conference:
* Mitch Leidner will practice today.
"Like last week, the trainer said that he's banged up and so forth, but said he'd be at full speed today," Kill said. "We'll see. I can't tell you until we get out there, but that's where we're at as far as I know."
Kill added: "He did not break his toe; that's all I can say. He was moving around on Sunday, so whether it's full speed or all of those things -- what I can say is the trainer said he was running pretty well. No different than last week. He basically got what they call turf toe, but he's not swelled up."
* Berkley Edwards and Donnell Kirkwood suffered shoulder injuries against TCU but are ready to practice today.
* Isaiah Gentry needs season-ending knee surgery. The freshman wide receiver will get a redshirt. And redshirt freshman offensive tackle Alex Mayes needs shoulder surgery.
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