Duke was relieved to welcome two players back to the lineup Saturday in a 38-14 win against Memphis, but now the Blue Devils hold their breath as they wait for word on potential further injuries.
After a slow start against the Tigers, the Blue Devils dominated the second half en route to matching the team’s win total in 2011 just four games into the season, but it appears Saturday’s action may not have come without a price. Running back Josh Snead, who was Duke’s leading rusher entering Saturday’s contest, and cornerback Lee Butler, who also serves as the Blue Devils’ punt returner, both left the game with injuries.
Snead was relatively ineffective in Duke’s win, carrying the ball seven times for just 14 yards. He appeared to injure himself on a carry at the goal line, in which he was stuffed at the line of scrimmage and subsequently left the field. Butler’s injury was less apparent, though he certainly got his work in on Saturday, recording a tackle on defense and returning six punts for 68 yards and kickoffs for 40 yards. Since being inserted as Duke’s primary punt returner last week, Butler has been an impact player on special teams, returning a punt for a touchdown against N.C. Central and giving the Tigers’ special teams unit fits. Duke football head coach David Cutcliffe did not disclose much about the extent of Snead and Butler’s injuries, but it appeared the Blue Devils will be cautious with both players in practice this week. For now, the indication is that Duke will wait and see, though it seems as if the pair will be limited in practice this week in preparation for its ACC opener against Wake Forest.
“They looked okay today. They’re not going to be out there doing anything the day afterward, it may not be as bad as we thought but you just don’t know. It’s too early in the week,” Cutcliffe said. “Both of them were encouraged that maybe they won’t feel as bad as they thought they might have, but that remains to be seen whether they’ll be able to play or not.”
Although Snead and Butler left the game with injuries, Saturday marked the return of safety Jordon Byas and linebacker Kyler Brown. Byas recorded six tackles in the game.