Season-ending injuries force Friedgen to adjust

Henderson joins Heyer on shelf

UM coach looks to bolster offensive line

College Football

August 17, 2005|By Heather A. Dinich | Heather A. Dinich,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - After the second season-ending knee injury to a Maryland football player in three days, it's no surprise coach Ralph Friedgen didn't sleep well Monday night.

Friedgen confirmed yesterday that linebacker Erin Henderson, the Terps' top backup, tore his left anterior cruciate ligament Monday. Senior Stephon Heyer, Maryland's top offensive lineman, suffered the same injury Saturday morning.

In addition, senior running back Mario Merrills twisted his ankle and will miss at least a week of practice; fullback Ricardo Dickerson sprained his knee; his backup, Tim Cesa, is still out with mononucleosis; and cornerback Josh Wilson still has a huge gash in his shin from one of his teammates' cleats.

"This hasn't been one of my better weeks," said Friedgen, who said he was back in the office at 5 a.m. yesterday to tinker with the lineup.

He came up with moving tight end Derek Miller to right tackle to take some pressure off redshirt freshman Dane Randolph and freshman Jared Gaither.

"I wasn't crazy about the move to start with, but [offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe] has been wanting to do this for a while," Friedgen said. "I just didn't see where we have a choice. We're out of tackles."

Friedgen said the team has scrimmaged only about 35 plays and has probably had less contact than in previous years. Still, the injuries have been costly.

Henderson, a freshman from Aberdeen whose brother E.J. was a two-time All-American at Maryland, was expected to contribute on special teams and provide more depth at outside linebacker.

Friedgen said that Henderson wasn't even knocked down when he was injured, and that Henderson's foot was planted when offensive guard Jaimie Thomas ran into him.

Inside linebackers coach Tim Banks said Henderson would've played as a backup at weak-side or strong-side linebacker.

"He was still learning, but athletically, he was really getting into a rhythm and finding his way around," Banks said. "He's probably one of our bigger linebackers, yet one of the more athletic ones."

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