Denzel Burke Set to Return Against Rutgers, Status of Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Cameron Brown Remains Uncertain

By Dan Hope on September 29, 2022 at 1:33 pm
Denzel Burke

Ohio State expects to have at least one of its starting cornerbacks back on the field against Rutgers.

During his final media availability of the week on Thursday afternoon, Ryan Day said Denzel Burke was able to return to practice this week and will be available to play on Saturday after missing last week’s game against Wisconsin with a hand injury.

“He's had a good week of practice, so great to see him back,” Day said. “He's gonna be ready to roll this week. And excited to see him back on the field.”

Day said Burke, who was not listed on the initial availability report for the Wisconsin game and warmed up with a cast on his injured hand before he was ultimately ruled out, did not play against the Badgers because “it was too close from when it occurred to put him in the game.” Day did not answer directly when asked whether Burke would have to wear a cast this week and beyond, but said the injury is something Ohio State will have to monitor.

“That may be something that we have to keep an eye on here for the remainder of the season and protect it,” Day said. “But we'll kind of see how it heals and how it does.”

As for the other two other starters who missed the Wisconsin game due to injuries, Day said he did not have an update to provide on either Jaxon Smith-Njigba or Cameron Brown, leaving their availability in question. Day said during his radio show Thursday that safety Lathan Ransom is expected to return this week after missing the Wisconsin game.

Day said earlier this week that Smith-Njigba “still has a mindset of day-to-day” but Ohio State is not putting a timetable on when he could return.

“I don't think we want to move forward until we all feel really good about everything,” Day said Tuesday.

If Smith-Njigba is unable to play, Julian Fleming will be in line to make his second consecutive start opposite Marvin Harrison Jr. with Emeka Egbuka moving inside to the slot. If Cameron Brown is unable to play, JK Johnson is the likely choice to start in his place but Jyaire Brown could also be in line to playing time after both Johnson and Jyaire Brown made their first career starts against Wisconsin.

“Hopefully we'll have a little bit more depth again this week, but either way, those guys are ready to go and they're gonna see significant time,” Day said of Jyaire Brown and Johnson.

Ohio State will also get a boost to its kicker depth this week as Parker Lewis will be eligible to play for the first time this season after he was cleared by the NCAA earlier this week. Even with Lewis now eligible, though, Day said the plan is for freshman walk-on Jayden Fielding to continue handling kickoff duties for at least the start of this week’s game.

“I think Jayden’s off to a great start,” Day said. “I think that he's done some good things. He certainly hasn't been perfect, missed a couple here. And so we want that consistency. We want him to be the best in the country at what he does. That's the expectation for any position here at Ohio State. So we'll go into the game with Jayden and kind of take it from there.”

View 42 Comments