Gophers injury report vs NMSU: Kirkwood listed as questionable
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Minnesota Gophers injury report -- Sept. 7 @ New Mexico State
RS junior RB Donnell Kirkwood (ankle sprain) -- Questionable
• Kirkwood has been nursing a bum right ankle since getting tangled up on a run in the third quarter of the Gophers' season opener last week against UNLV.
Coach Jerry Kill has been hesitant to officially rule out Kirkwood for Saturday, but it appears highly unlikely that the he will be able to play. Kirkwood was listed as questionable on the official injury report released on Thursday, but he is not penciled in on the depth chart.
The Gophers' starting tailback had not been cleared to practice as of Wednesday, but was able to do some light running on the sidelines later in the week.
Kirkwood's injury has opened up a battle for playing time in the backfield, primarily between sophomore Rodrick Williams Jr. and junior David Cobb. Watch for both to get carries on Saturday, but with Williams getting the start.
Freshman RB Berkley Edwards (ankle/knee sprain) -- Out
• Edwards will sit out again due to a sprained right knee and ankle suffered on a rep in practice on Aug. 21.
Kill mentioned Wednesday that Edwards is close to the same stage of recovery as Kirkwood, with the hope that he will be able to make his collegiate debut in Week 3 against Western Illinois.
But Edward's return date is still very much in flux. Kill has insisted the Gophers will be careful to ease the speedy 5-foot-9, 190-pound Edwards back into practice when he is finally given clearance.
Junior CB Derrick Wells (shoulder/hamstring) -- Probable
• Wells looks like he will make his season debut against New Mexico State, although his role could be limited
Wells had been slowed off and on throughout fall camp with a lingering shoulder issue (deep bruise), along with a bout of hamstring tightness. As a result, he was forced to sit out in Week 1, leaving the Gophers without a slight bump in physicality and speed on the edge.
But Wells returned to practice earlier in the week, leading Kill to say Wednesday that the standout junior corner is back at "full-tilt."
What his role will be Saturday if he does play still remains in question. Wells is listed behind sophomore Eric Murray on the Gophers' latest depth chart. Junior Briean Boddy-Calhoun, who returned an interception for touchdown in his first career start last week, is slotted in the starting spot on the edge opposite Murray, with senior Martez Shabazz marked as the No. 2 option.
RS junior TE Alex Bisch (foot) -- Out
Sidelined since early on in fall camp with a foot injury, Bisch has once again been ruled out. As the Gophers unveiled against UNLV, redshirt sophomore Ernie Heifort was moved from center to tight end largely to fill Bisch's spot.
RS freshman LB Nick Rallis (undisclosed) -- Out
Rallis was used in a backup capacity at strongside linebacker behind redshirt senior Aaron Hill in the season opener, picking up his first three collegiate tackles. But now he is out with an undisclosed injury. Redshirt sophomore Dominic Schultz has moved up the depth chart into Rallis' spot.
RS senior LT Ed Olson (undisclosed) -- Out
With Olson not making the trip to New Mexico State, redshirt freshman Ben Lauer has been shifted into the backup role at left tackle with starter Marek Lenkiewicz.
RS senior Victor Keise (wrist) -- Probable
Keise has had to wear cast over his left wrist since getting injured during the last week of fall camp. Keise struggled at first getting used to catching with the cast on, leading Kill to hold him out against UNLV. But Kill said Keise has stood out in practice this week and has been "catching the ball well."
The redshirt senior, who has only one catch in 14 career games, is listed alongside sophomore K.J. Maye as the No. 2 Z-receiver in back of Isaac Fruechte.
RS freshman WR Jamel Harbison (suspension) -- Out
Harbison missed Game 1 because of an off-field discipline issue, which will also keep him out for a second consecutive game. Harbison has not played in a game since tearing his ACL in the Gophers' 2012 season opener on the road at UNLV.
Kill has not expressed serious concern about Harbison's situation, eluding that it is only a minor discipline issue. Kill said Wednesday that the redshirt freshman receiver has been doing a "good job" off the field and will "be back here soon."
Sophomore WR Andre McDonald (suspension) -- Out
McDonald is not expected to return this season after he was removed from the Gophers' 105-man roster midway through fall camp. Kill had said at the time McDonald's status would be reevaluated once the season began, but on Tuesday Kill announced that McDonald would sit the year out.