Purdue senior linebacker Jason Werner will have minor back surgery today, coach Joe Tiller said Tuesday.
Werner, who has been plagued with back injuries, missed the first two games after apparently tweaking his back during a practice about three weeks ago.
Defensive coordinator Brock Spack said after the season opener against Northern Colorado that Werner was pushed in the back in a practice and that the injury appeared minor. Since then, the coaching staff had been mum on Werner’s status, only saying he was day-to-day.
But Tiller seems to think the surgery, which he called a “scope,” will allow Werner to get back onto the field within a couple of weeks.
Coaches would love that; they consider Werner one of the defense’s best players.
“They tried to shock it to settle it down to try to shrink whatever it is he has,” Tiller said. “They actually think they can clean it up. On the X-ray, there’s a little piece of bone about the size of a lead in a pencil, so it’s very small, that actually is rubbing against a nerve. They think if they remove that, he can be pain free. So we look forward to that.
“He could make a fast recovery after this. That would probably eliminate this week but might not from now on, so that’s what we’re hoping.”
If Werner is able to recover, it will be interesting to see how it changes the defense.
Purdue used a nickel defense on every down last week against Oregon, meaning the Boilermakers had just two linebackers on the field.
Spack said he likes the depth and talent in the secondary, so Werner simply could take over for his replacement, Joe Holland, in the package alongside Anthony Heygood.
Spack also could opt to play more of a base 4-3 defense. That could mean Kevin Green gets on the field, but Spack doesn’t think Green is ready for full-time duties at middle linebacker.
Another way to stay in the 4-3 could be moving Heygood to middle and playing Holland and Werner at the outside positions.
But Holland seemed to be a quick fix; he has played linebacker for only about two weeks after being switched from safety.
Note: In other injury news, tight end Kyle Adams likely won’t play this week while still recovering from surgery to “clean up a meniscus” injury, Tiller said. Jerry Wasikowski started last week.