A few months ago, no one knew whether Oregon State wide receiver James Rodgers would ever play football again.
On Friday, coach Mike Riley gave Beavers' fan a shred of hope.
Rodgers suffered a severe knee injury against Arizona on Oct. 9 and missed the rest of the season. He had a second surgery in March. Rodgers was granted a medical hardship waiver by the NCAA making him eligible to play in 2011, but until now, no one knew whether that would be possible.
But Riley told the Portland Tribune that he was "encouraged" by Rodgers progress so far.
"James is on a treadmill, jogging, walking without a limp. He can jog out on the field. I'm encouraged, although conservatively. I don't want to put any unreasonable or unknowledgeable expectations. The doctor thinks he'll be ready to play football this season. He thought James might be a little late getting into camp, but he didn't put any more restrictions on it than that."
Riley has maintained all along that he has no plans to rush Rodgers back and that if he can't play at 100 percent, he's not going to force the issue.
"I don't want James to come back until he can be James," Riley said.
At the time of his injury, Rodgers ranked sixth in the nation with an average of 176.75 all-purpose yards and was averaging 18.33 yards on punt returns and 28.67 yards on kickoff returns.
Riley also addressed the injury status of quarterback Ryan Katz, who had wrist surgery in the offseason, While Katz still isn't 100 percent, Riley seemed optimistic that he'd be ready for the fall.
Katz finished seventh in the conference last year with 198.6 yards per game, but he did complete nearly 60 percent of his passes.
"He is still not totally cleared. He is not taking direct snaps, and he can't do all the lifts. But he's able to do a lot of the stuff that's important, like throwing the ball and running."
Riley acknowledged that his injury report, which contained five starters including receiver Jordan Bishop, tight end Joe Halahuni and tailback Jordan Jenkins, did seem to make the Beavers 2011 season outlook seem a little bleak, but Riley didn't want to give into any concerns until he knew what his team looked like when fall camp started.
"There are a lot of reasons for people to worry," Riley said. "But these are all things you individually deal with. The thing that's most important with this team is where are we physically on Aug. 7."
- James Rodgers