Posted by: Matt Lothrop
Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead practiced Monday for the first time since spraining his left MCL during the first game of the season.
"I think the biggest thing is getting comfortable in practice," Burkhead said. "Just starting off running around. It's just the little things, little small cuts not even when you have the ball in your hand. You just have to get comfortable with it. A lot of it is a fear factor you just need to get over."
Coach Bo Pelini said Monday at his weekly news conference he expects Burkhead to play Saturday against Idaho State. How much action the senior sees will be determined by how he progresses during the week.
Pelini said Burkhead was probably able to play last weekend against Arkansas State, but he was leaning on his trainers to make the best decision.
Burkhead sported a new piece of hardware at Monday's practice, a leg brace on his left knee.
"It takes some getting used to, but it's alright," Burkhead said. "The linemen are joking with me saying I'm one of them now."
Burkhead's return has created a problem of splitting carries amongst him, Ameer Abdullah, and Braylon Heard. Offensive coordinator Tim Beck said each back ran with the first team unit during Monday's practice. Beck also commented on how he will use the backs come Saturday.
"They're all deserving and they might (get carries)," Beck said. "Our game plan is not in and just cause Rex is back doesn't mean we're going to push those guys wayside. They're a big part of our offense, always have been, and they'll continue to be part of the offense.
Heard has taken 16 carries for 99 yards and scored one touchdown in Burkhead's absence.
Abdullah has made the most of Burkhead's injury amassing 367 yards on 61 carries with four touchdowns. Even with that success, the sophomore knows where he stands on the depth chart.
"We all know rightfully he (Burkhead) owns the spot."