Junior nose guard Mike Krause will miss the 2009 season with a heart ailment, Northern Illinois coach Jerry Kill said after Thursday night's opening practice at Huskie Stadium.
"Mike had a situation this summer, a heart situation," Kill said. "Right now, Mike will not be able to play this year. What we'll do is medical[ly] redshirt Mike and he'll be reevaluated and he's still a part of our team and helping us out in other ways. He just has a situation that we need to be very cautious with. Mike's health is a lot more important than the football field."
Krause started 13 games at nose guard last season, recording 20 tackles, recovering two fumbles and forcing one.
"It's hard on Mike but he's such a team player and he's out here helping us out," Kill said. "He'll bounce back, but [I] really feel bad for him."
Also, senior defensive end Mike Kritikos has been held out of practice and it's unknown when he'll return. Kritikos suffered an unspecified left leg injury during the spring and missed almost all of spring practice.
"Kritikos I think will be able to play," Kill said. "If he does play it's a tremendous miracle on that kid's behalf on how he worked to get back."
When Kritkos does return, it will be slowly, much like what the Huskies did last season with guard Jason Onyebuagu when he returned from a knee injury.
With Krause and Kritikos out, that leaves wide open holes for some of the younger defensive linemen to step up. That's something we'll be watching while camp progresses.
Moving on to the actual practice, everybody was excited for the start of the football season and here are some of the highlights.
Senior wide receiver Marcus Lewis and sophomore wideout Willie Clark must have read some of the comments on the incoming freshmen wide receivers, as they played like it was the third or fourth week of camp rather than the first day. Lewis ran a pretty route to beat Kiaree Daniels for a touchdown and Clark stole a catch from Donald Smith.
Freshman cornerback Dominique Ware looked especially strong during one-on-ones.
Cameron Bell is not getting cheated on his listed height and weight. He is every bit of 6-foot-2, 243 pounds. Sophomore Me'co Brown has definitely put on some muscle over the offseason.
Freshman Jordan Lynch is playing quarterback to start camp. Safety Garrett Barnas had the first interception of camp, picking off Ryan Morris.
There are no less than nine players up for the punt and kick returner jobs.
The final 30 minutes of practice were dedicated to working with the freshmen while the veterans stretched and then watched from the sidelines. This will be the structure for at least the first couple of days.
Asked how much the team will have to improve before going up to Wisconsin, Kill said, "About 990 percent." So apparently the Huskies are about 10 percent there on a 1,000-point scale.
Quotable: "If you get comfortable, you get fired." Kill on his comfort level in his second season.