GARY ROGERS and KEVIN LOPINA
THE NEWS ON Gary Rogers and Kevin Lopina was about as good as could be hoped for on Sunday night. Head Trainer Bill Drake said Rogers is doing very well, walking out of the hospital after being discharged around lunchtime on Sunday. Lopina has a deep shoulder bruise but Paul Wulff did not rule him out for Saturday's Homecoming game against Oregon.
Rogers' injury at the C-7 vertebrae is not a large fracture, said Drake, but nevertheless a fracture.
"The first thing you look for with a neck fracture in imaging, is it stable or not. This one is very stable. Non-surgical," said Drake. "...His spinal chord was not compromised in any way and his neurological status is full function."
Rogers will wear a hard collar for up to six weeks. Drake said after the collar comes off, there is every indication he will get back full motion and strength during the 3-4 month recovery time. Drake said the medical staff is holding off on ruling whether or not the injury turns out to be a career ending one until the healing is complete.
Likewise, any decision on whether Rogers would request a medical hardship waiver would probably have to wait until the injury is fully healed, though it might not appear to be a route taken at first glance. After a season starts and an injury or illness occurs keeps an athlete out of competition up to three games or 30 percent of the season played, a hardship waiver can be requested. Rogers has played in four games, though with a 13 game season like the Cougs have in '08, four games averages out to 30.7 percent of the season.
"It's just too early to make a lot of judgments there right now, we just want to see some initial good healing first and then start to talk about the future after that," said Drake.
Rogers is on pace to get his degree by December. His dad was at the game yesterday, his mom is in Pullman and will be staying the week.
MEANWHILE, Lopina has a deep shoulder bruise and is day-to-day, said Drake. Lopina on Sunday was very sore, said Wulff, but he wouldn't rule out him being ready by Saturday.
"We don't feel there is much structurally wrong right now, but he's got some pieces to his body that are tender and sore so we're hoping he can improve throughout the week," said Wulff.
Wulff said it would be fair to assume Marshall Lobbestael would start if Lopina is unable to go.
"We've got to wait and see...how Kevin comes back this week. Today's a Sunday, he could be feeling really good by Wednesday," said Wulff.
At Sunday's practice, there were three Cougar quarterbacks -- Lobbestael, and J.T. Levenseller and Dan Wagner backing him up. Wulff said with Lobbestael getting far fewer reps than have Rogers and Lopina this spring and fall, the staff is still finding out his strengths.
"But you can tell he's got a little bit of moxie, he has some competitiveness to him...I'm a believer in Marshall He has a chance to be a good player," said Wulff.
Wulff said it has been noteworthy how much Lobbestael has studied and prepared for potential playing time being the No. 3 quarterback.
ON ROGERS, DRAKE said indications are it was a new fracture, not something he had done earlier that then worsened further. Wulff saw Rogers and his family last night at the hospital, saying Rogers was disappointed, but also thankful. Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Todd Sturdy saw Rogers at lunchtime today and told Wulff the fifth year senior was in good spirits.
"Let me say I've known Gary since December, and his parents are to be commended... They've done an outstanding job of raising a great person and a wonderful young man and someone who is going to be a great, great person in society. They've done an A-plus job," said Wulff.
Wulff said he was stunned when the results on Rogers revealed a spine fracture came in because up to that point, things had looked decidedly positive as to a quick return. Of the play itself, Wulff said there didn't appear to be anything premeditated about it.
"It wasn't extremely late, but it was late. And it was a foul and it wasn't necessary, obviously. That's all I can say. It wasn't an actual cheap shot, it was just a late hit. The kid didn't go for a body part or an area where he was trying to intentionally hurt Gary like you see some people do," said Wulff.
WULFF SAID THE Cougar offensive line protection remains a concern, though at the same time, on Lopina's injury, "...the running back needed to get over there and Kevin needed to direct him over there. So a little bit of that was just Kevin not getting the guy in the right spot."
Offensive guard Andrew Roxas (knee) just got his brace off and Wulff said he doesn't expect him to be ready this week.