Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel mostly stuck to a previous announcement that he would not further comment on the one-game suspension the Big Ten handed down to senior safety Kurt Coleman on Monday, but the subject inevitably came up anyway when he met with local reporters for the first time since a 30-0 defeat of Illinois last Saturday.
“Our directive was to make sure that it's yesterday's news and not comment further,” he said when asked how Coleman took the news, though he did add that the co-captain “took it like a man.”
As far as Coleman’s role for this week in practice, Tressel said he did not think Coleman would move to the scout team, nor did he think the player would make the trip with the team to Bloomington on Saturday for the Buckeyes’ next game, a 7 p.m. tilt with Indiana.
Tressel presumed the starting safeties in the Buckeyes’ base defense this week will be Anderson Russell and Jermale Hines, while the No. 3 safety, at least in terms of reps, has been Orhian Johnson.
In addition, the safety group figures to be bolstered by the return of Zach Domicone, a redshirt freshman who has not played yet this season while recovering from an undisclosed injury.
His return will also be a plus because he was a member of several special teams units before his training camp injury.
Also expected back this week is Ross Homan, a junior starting linebacker who suffered what is believed to be a concussion against the Fighting Illini.
“Ross got dinged a little bit there early in the game and played about 16 plays after the fact, which was a little frightening, but he seemed to be feeling fine,” Tressel said. “He probably won't work today, but will work tomorrow. We're very, very conservative on those.”
Most of the game reps Homan missed went to sophomore Andrew Sweat, who tallied five tackles and a sack.
“Andrew Sweat stepped in and obviously had prepared and is a talented kid,” Tressel said. “It was a good experience for him because you need to develop that depth because injuries do happen, and so that was a good thing for his case. I guess out of any negative thing you can find a good thing, and that was a good thing that Andrew could come in and play and he did well.”
Senior offensive lineman Jim Cordle and senior safety Aaron Gant both remain out this week, but freshman running back Jaamal Berry might be available.
If Berry returns from his injury, he would join a competition for playing time in the backfield that already includes the co-offensive players of the week from the Illinois game, Brandon Saine and Dan Herron, as well as scout team offensive player of the week Jermil Martin, a redshirt freshman running back whom Tressel praised for his work against the No. 1 defense in practice last week. Also in the mix is true freshman Jordan Hall, who has carried for 66 yards on 14 carries the last two weeks.
“I think Jamaal Berry is going to be very good, we just need to get him healthy,” Tressel said. “By committee doesn't bother you because we've all been in circumstances where you didn't have enough tailbacks and you had a lot of injuries or whatever the case, but the more the merrier.”
Tressel also addressed rumors sophomore receiver Lamaar Thomas is unhappy with his role as the team's No. 1 kickoff returner and a backup receiver.
"He's one of the best (kickoff returners) in the country, I think, and I'm hoping he can rip one out of there," he said. "Right now he's battling in that fourth or fifth area from a receiver standpoint, but we're working hard. I've never seen anything other than positive work ethic and positive attitude."