Ohio State’s secondary still has injury questions

COLUMBUS — Ohio State is still dealing with multiple injuries as the top-ranked Buckeyes prepare to return home for a game with Michigan State on Saturday.

Head coach Ryan Day described the state of the team as nothing out of the ordinary.

“Yeah it was another physical game, and like you come out of the game and you go in there try to identify what happened with everybody,” Day said Tuesday. “So we’ll keep trying to get these guys treatment the best we can.”

He indicated cornerback Denzel Burke (unidentified) is expected to practice this week while safety Lathan Ransom (leg) is still being evaluated.

Neither played last week as Ohio State beat Rutgers 35-16, and Burke also missed the Buckeyes’ win over Wisconsin the previous week.

The other starting deep safety, Josh Proctor, also missed most of the second half at Rutgers after appearing to take a hit to the head in the third quarter, but Day indicated he is on track to be back.

“I think he’s gonna be ready to roll here,” Day said. “We’ll keep looking at it.”

The coach was a little more vague about linebacker Tommy Eichenberg, who appeared to be evaluated for an arm injury of some sort late in the game but was able to finish it.

A senior from Cleveland, he was Ohio State’s leading tackler last season and has 21 more than anyone else this season while also serving as the quarterback of coordinator Jim Knowles’ defense.

“I expect him to be out there today (at practice), and we’ll kind of see how the week goes, but this time of year you’re gonna have a lot of guys with bumps and bruises for sure,” Day said.

If Eichenberg is unavailable, he would likely be replaced by Cody Simon, who has seen his minutes increase over the past few weeks. He has shared time with “Will” linebacker Steele Chambers, but Knowles said Simon is more of a natural at Eichenberg’s “Mike” position.

True freshman Jermaine Mathews Jr. has been playing in Burke’s place and acquitted himself well while Sonny Styles took most of the snaps in Ransom’s spot last week.

Malik Hartford, a true freshman from Lakota West High School, finished the game in place of Prcotor, and Knowles said he has been improving in practice after having some rough moments in games early in the season.

“He hasn’t let it get him down,” Knowles said. “He’s just been focused on getting better and learning the game and to process things at a high speed. So he’s just been practicing well and just stayed with it.”

On the other side of the ball, backup quarterback Devin Brown continues to improve after suffering a sprained ankle at Purdue last month.

He was available Saturday but not needed, and Day indicated he should benefit from another week of practice and recovery.

With the 3-6 Spartans on the docket this week, Day was asked about managing the team’s health at this point in the season and said every injury situation is different.

While Burke and Ransom were listed as out, starting tight end Cade Stover was considered available but did not see action.

The latter also happened with No. 2 receiver Emeka Egbuka earlier in the season.

“We identify it and say, ‘Yeah, you could probably play an emergency role and you are available in case something happens, but you’re not at 100%,” Day said. “So it’s the training staff’s job to make that decision, and then for me, hey, listen, he’s not where he needs to be. If he needed to play 10 to 15 to 20 plays, he could do that, but certainly in the long run, it’d be better off if he didn’t. That’s that’s the conversation. And so, you know, every situation is unique. And that’s why, I just I lean to the doctors and I lean to the sports medicine folks that give me that advice.”


Michigan State at Ohio State, 7:30 p.m., NBC, 1410

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