Rodgers returns to field for Beavers
Senior WR is back in 2011 following two knee surgeries
CORVALLIS, Ore. -- The Oregon State Beavers have embarked on fall practice in workmanlike manner, typical of low-key coach Mike Riley.
There was no big local "media day" with speeches and prognostication about the upcoming season. Instead, the Beavers simply started practicing this week.
And all eyes were on senior flanker James Rodgers, who is coming off two knee surgeries.
Rodgers was cleared last week to practice in "limited fashion." Riley said he would remain at that status for an undetermined amount of time.
Rodgers was out on the field on Monday, wearing little brother Jacquizz Rodgers' Oregon State No. 1 jersey. Jacquizz Rodgers decided to leave the Beavers a year early and is now with the Atlanta Falcons.
James Rodgers participated for the first half of Oregon State's practice but then took the rest of the day off. All accounts had him looking strong.
"He looked like (the old) James Rodgers with the wrong number to me. He was limited in what he could do, but he looked good. He was in great shape. He looked quick," Riley told reporters.
When he hurt his left knee last season at Arizona, Rodgers was ranked sixth in the nation with an average of 176.75 all-purpose yards. He was averaging 18.33 yards on punt returns and 28.67 yards on kickoff returns.
He was granted a fifth year of eligibility because of the injury.
"I like to work hard. I can't really sit here and give you a percent (on the health of his knee)," Rodgers said at practice on Monday. "I'm just out here working as hard as I can and work on getting to the point where I need to be and where they feel that I'm ready to go."
Rodgers is one of several players looking to bounce back from injury, including quarterback Ryan Katz, who broke his wrist in the season-ending Civil War loss to Oregon and required minor surgery. Others included receiver Jordan Bishop (ankle), tight end Joe Halahuni (shoulder) and running back Jordan Jenkins (shoulder).
Katz, Bishop and Jenkins were practicing at full speed, while Halahuni was still limited.
Oregon State was thwarted last season by James Rodgers' knee and an unbelievably tough schedule, including seven ranked teams -- five of which were in the top 10 when they faced the Beavers.
The Beavers dropped five of their last seven games, including a double-overtime loss at Washington and a humbling loss at home to lowly Washington State. The only real bright spot was a 36-7 rout of USC on Nov. 20.
Jacquizz Rodgers finished his junior season with 1,184 yards rushing, for an average of 98.6 yards a game. He ranks sixth on the Pac-10's career rushing list with 3,877 yards.
Now Oregon State faces the daunting task of replacing Quizz, a fifth-round pick by the Falcons in the NFL draft.
Nonetheless, Riley felt Quizz's early departure was the right choice for him.
"The one thing about Jacquizz is I think he was drafted by a team that knew why they were drafting him," Riley said recently. "The Falcons were an established team. They knew what they needed. Jacquizz will have a great opportunity, and I think he'll do well in the NFL."