UPDATED, 3:30 p.m.
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Barry Odom provided an injury update after Thursday’s practice and, unfortunately, it’s bad news for one of the better stories in camp. Junior tight end Brendan Scales underwent surgery Thursday morning for a broken bone in his foot, the fifth metatarsal, he suffered Wednesday, Odom said. He’s expected to miss six to eight weeks.
Scales had been working with the first-team offense while starter Albert Okwuegbunam and top backup Daniel Parker Jr. nursed injuries. The fourth-year junior from St. Louis and Lafayette High had climbed the depth chart and carved out a role in the rotation. That climb is on pause for now.
“I hate it because he had made up so much ground and was really going to help us,” Odom said. “I hate it for the kid because he was really turning the corner."
Okwuegbunam was limited again Thursday while recovering from the sprained right knee he suffered last week. “I think he's a lot closer to being 100 percent than not,” Odom said.
Parker returned to most drills Thursday after hurting his shoulder in practice earlier in the week.
Defensive end Tre Williams has been out with some pain in his left shoulder, the same shoulder he had repaired previously, Odom said. “If we would play Saturday he would play,” Odom said.
Slot receiver Johnathon Johnson has been out of action with a sprained toe on his right foot. Johnson is the team’s most experienced receiver, but the Tigers have two experienced backups in the slot in Barrett Banister and Dominic Gicinto.
Odom called the toe injury “very, very minor.”
“But still, the explosion he has coming in and out of breaks we've got to manage that to make sure it doesn’t get out of control,” Odom said.
Defensive tackle Jordan Elliott, another starter, sat out most drills Thursday because of soreness, Odom said. Odom indicated Elliott would be back for Saturday’s closed scrimmage. “We want to get more out of him Saturday than today,” Odom said.
Defensive end Trajan Jeffcoat remains out of action with a sprained elbow suffered on the first day of camp nearly two weeks ago. “He still would be day to day, maybe more week to week than day to day, but we're making good progress,” Odom said.
Backup D-tackle Chris Daniels has been spending most of his time at practice working on conditioning. “He’s on the same plan I’m on: weight loss,” Odom said. “We’re trying to get him in that position.”
With the issues at tight end, freshman Niko Hea can forget about taking a redshirt this season. Odom said he’d be “really surprised” if Hea “doesn't play the entire season.” The rookie from CBC was hardly the most heralded recruit from the St. Louis area or in the entire 2019 signing class, but he’s been productive at a position that needs to add depth.
“Just the things he’s done from the day he stepped on campus, I’m so impressed with his maturity level with the things he does and the way he can help us in different roles, kicking (game) and at tight end,” Odom said. “He’s a talented guy.”
As for MU’s other freshmen, Odom said the staff will go into the season expecting all of them to see game action under the NCAA’s redshirt rule, which went into effect last year and allows players to appear in a maximum of four games without using a year of eligibility.
That could include quarterback Connor Bazelak, even though he’s no higher than fourth on the depth chart behind starter Kelly Bryant and backups Taylor Powell and Lindsey Scott Jr.
“We’ll see how that goes and see how (Bazelak) continues to progress,” Odom said. “We'll have some hard discussions after that practice on Saturday, staff-wise, and see how we want to manage that with the quarterback. There's only one of those guys, one quarterback. So the ability if you get in the position to get somebody else in the game, how do you choose that balance? Is it a guy who still needs game experience with Taylor and Lindsey or do you go another direction?”
As for that backup position, Odom said Powell would be No. 2 behind Bryant if the season started today but Scott still has time to catch him for the job with Saturday’s scrimmage.
“Lindsey, the last couple days has made some progress,” Odom said. “So I would hate to say right now … I don't want to eliminate Lindsey from the mix because he’s done some great things. We're getting to the point both of those guys could go in and efficiently run things what we need to try to win a game.”
EIGHT TIGERS ON ALL-SEC TEAM
Eight Missouri players appear on the SEC coaches' preseason all-conference team. Only Alabama (16), Georgia (10), LSU (nine) and Auburn (nine) landed more players on the three teams.
Mizzou tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, offensive guard Tre'Vour Wallace-Simms and linebacker Cale Garrett earned first-team honors. Cornerback DeMarkus Acy was voted to the second team. Four Tigers made the third team: offensive tackle Yasir Durant, running back Larry Rountree, defensive tackle Jordan Elliott and kicker Tucker McCann.
Look for more updates later today.