As the 3-1 Blue Devils prepare to take on Wake Forest in Winston-Salem Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Duke released its weekly injury report. Here’s a rundown of the players are listed on the injury report this week:
CB Lee Butler (leg) OG Lucas Patrick (ankle)
QB Brandon Connette (leg) TE Erich Schneider (lower body)
CB Jared Boyd (leg) LB Kelby Brown (leg) NG Jamal Bruce (foot) TE Braxton Deaver (leg) DE Justin Foxx (hand) S Chris Tavarez (leg)
OUT FOR SEASON
TE Jack Farrell (leg) WR Blair Holliday DE Allen Jackson (shoulder) S Corbin McCarthy (shoulder) S Taylor Sowell (leg)
Breakdown: Chris Tavarez became the latest Blue Devil safety to find himself on the injury report when he underwent surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee Wednesday. No timetable has been set for his return. Tavarez has recorded just two tackles for Duke this season, but has been a key contributor on special teams. With a bevy of injuries to the Blue Devil defense, and specifically the secondary, it may be Duke’s special teams unit that has suffered the most. After rearranging the kicking teams yet again this week, head coach David Cutcliffe will need to shuffle the lineup again during Tavarez’s indefinite absence. Tavarez was not the only safety to find himself added to the injury report this week. Safety Taylor Sowell was deemed out for the season with a leg injury, joining fellow safety Corbin McCarthy, who has also been lost for the year.
There are some fleeting positives for the Blue Devils this week on the injury front. After leaving last week’s win against Memphis due to injury, running back Josh Snead has not been listed on this week’s injury report and cornerback Lee Butler, listed as probable, should start. Duke will also welcome guard Lucas Patrick back to the lineup for the first time this season. Patrick was listed as questionable for last weekend’s contest against the Tigers but was a late scratch. The Blue Devils will also have linebacker Brandon Fowler and safety August Campbell at their disposal this weekend against the Demon Deacons, after they were both listed as out on the previous week’s injury report.
Campbell’s return to the lineup will be particularly crucial for the Duke, who can’t seem to keep their safeties on the field this year. Campbell will link up in the defensive backfield with Jordon Byas, Brandon Braxton and Walt Canty to form the most complete secondary the Blue Devils have played with all season, despite the loss of Tavarez.
Another interesting addition to this week’s injury report was Brandon Connette. Connette, who has been a hybrid offensive weapon for the Blue Devils this season, making appearances at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end, has registered five touchdowns for Duke in 2012—one through the air, three on the ground and one his first career touchdown reception. Playing at spots all over the offense as well as stints on the punt team and free safety, it’s understandable that Connette has taken more than a few hits this season. He is listed as questionable for this weekend’s matchup with the Demon Deacons with a leg injury. If Connette cannot go, that will provide a significant blow to the Blue Devils’ offensive unit this week. It may be possible quarterback Sean Renfree will have to take more snaps in the red zone than he is accustomed to, or that you may see more of Anthony Boone this weekend against Wake Forest.
As players continue to get shuffled on and off the injury report, it’s not exactly what Duke wanted to see headed into their ACC opener against a physical Demon Deacons squad.