Pirates look to scale back at practice

Published 7:55 am Tuesday, October 23, 2007

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — After eight straight weeks of football, several of the East Carolina Pirates are banged up and bruised.
ECU coach Skip Holtz said it’s time to start scaling back practices just a bit.
One of the players listed on this week’s injury report is C.J. Wilson, who was knocked out of last Saturday’s game following a late hit by N.C. State offensive lineman Jake Vermiglio. The hit drew a penalty flag and the ejection of Vermiglio.
Wilson, a sophomore defensive end and former standout at Northside High School, is listed as questionable with a hip injury. However, Wilson was able to practice Sunday evening. He said he’ll be ready for Saturday’s game against the UAB Blazers.
With Marcus Hands out with a shoulder injury, the Pirates desperately need Wilson to be healthy. Wilson leads the Pirates with eight quarterback hurries and shares the team-lead with his four QB sacks.
ECU (4-4, 3-1), which is currently tied with Southern Miss (4-3, 3-1) atop the Conference USA East division, takes on the Blazers (2-5, 1-2) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
The game inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium will be ECU’s last home game for nearly a month. The Pirates play at Memphis next week and at Marshall on Nov. 10. After getting its first bye week on Nov. 17, ECU will wrap up regular-season play at home Nov. 24 against Tulane.
The Pirates, who will be looking for their fourth straight conference win, are dealing with a number of injured players.
While offensive tackle Willie Barton (ankle) and defensive tackle A.J. Johnson (ankle) are listed as out, several players will be limited in practice this week. Linebacker Nick Johnson left last week’s game with a back injury. His status for Saturday’s game against UAB depends on how he responds to treatment throughout the week. Barton, A.J. Johnson and running back Norman Whitley (ankle) are all listed as “doubtful” for Saturday’s contest.
Others who got banged up in the loss to State were receivers Phillip Henry (shoulder), Michael Hickman (groin) and Jamar Bryant (knee). Holtz said all three are expected to play against the Blazers.
On a bright note, the Pirates are expected to see offensive lineman Josh Coffman return to action.
Quentin Cotton, who has been battling a shoulder injury, was in on some 29 plays in Saturday’s 34-20 loss to N.C. State. The linebacker rotated with Jeremy Chambliss, who came up with an interception that led to an ECU touchdown.