The walking wounded: Assessing the Texas injury situation

Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

The bye week comes at a crucial time for the banged up Longhorns.

Injuries are a natural and unavoidable part of every football season, but so far during the 2013 campaign, the Texas Longhorns seem to have suffered more than most teams, as 15 contributors or potential contributors have gone down since the start of fall camp.

Here's the first list of all the players injured during fall camp and the first four games of the season.

Junior quarterback David Ash -- The concussion in the middle of the fourth quarter against BYU came on yet another running play for the mobile starter, his 16th of the game. After taking a number of hits inside and outside the pocket as well, Ash suffered a concussion and a shoulder injury that kept him out of practice the following week in preparation for Ole Miss.

In fact, Ash was advised by team doctors not to attend the game to avoid loud noises and bright lights, returning late in the week prior to the Kansas State game after finally being cleared by doctors. Play caller Major Applewhite didn't exactly dial back the running plays and Ash took another big hit in the open field by Kansas State cornerback Dorrian Roberts when he chose not to slide, something that he needs to add to his arsenal.

Ash did not play in the second half as a result of what head coach Mack Brown called his symptoms returning, suggesting that Ash did not suffer a second concussion against the Wildcats, but merely had some of his symptoms return. Either way, it could prolong his recovery and if it was a second concussion, could put both his season and his career at risk.

At the least, it will be something that he will have to manage for the rest of the season.

Freshman quarterback Tyrone Swoopes -- Within the first several fall practices, Swoopes suffered a hamstring injury that limited his running ability for the rest of fall camp, inhibiting as well his development. And so despite the fact that Brown has said the team is preparing Swoopes every week to play, he still hasn't seen the field yet even as the offense goes into ultra-conservative mode. If he's healthy moving forward and Ash is not, it's time to get Swoopes on the field.

Sophomore offensive weapon Daje Johnson -- Besides the concussion issues of Ash, no single injury has hurt the Texas offense as much as losing the team's most explosive player early against BYU to what appeared to be a high ankle sprain. He's missed the last two games and there is currently no timetable for his return, though the Horns desperately need him in uniform and healthy to have a chance to beat Oklahoma in less than three weeks.

Sophomore wide receiver Kendall Sanders -- An ankle sprain in fall camp limited him, but his recovery timetable coincided nicely with his suspension for the New Mexico State game that was his punishment for his Chili Fest DUI back in April. Sanders looked reasonably healthy against BYU and then truly burst on to the scene with his 63-yard touchdown catch from Ash against Kansas State that showcased his ability to separate down the field. If he's not 100% yet, he certainly has most of his explosiveness back.

Sophomore wide receiver Marcus Johnson -- The wide receivers had a hard time getting through fall camp without injuries and the sophomore from League City Clear Creek was among those who went down after he suffered a sprained MCL midway through camp. He played against New Mexico State and made his first college catch, but it wasn't until Mike Davis went out with his ankle injury suffered against Ole Miss that Johnson was able to turn in his first impactful performance in burnt orange and white.

Junior wide receiver Bryant Jackson -- A dark horse candidate for a breakout season after Jackson made a handful of important catches last fall, his luck let him down, as he suffered a fracture foot in late-camp scrimmage. There is currently no timetable for his return, as the team has not updated his status in some time, thought the typical timetable for recovery is 6-8 weeks, with Jackson now four weeks into that process.

Senior wide receiver Mike Davis -- After a hip injury suffered in the offseason limited him at the start of fall practice, an ankle injury sustained against Ole Miss slowed him for the rest of that game and kept him out of the Kansas State contest. After he was a game-time decision against the Wildcats, the hope is that Davis will be able to return against Iowa State after benefiting from the bye week.

Junior tight end Greg Daniels -- A strong blocking performance against the Rebels could have positioned Daniels for more playing time lats weekend, but a foot injury he suffered either during the game against Ole Miss or during practice last week kept him out. There is currently no timetable for his return.

Junior offensive tackle Josh Cochran -- Spring camp and fall camp were not kind to the multi-year starter, as he went out quickly during the spring and missed valuable reps before suffering a shoulder injury quickly in August. He's been wearing a harness on it, but it flared up against Ole Miss, forcing him to leave the game and keeping him out against Kansas State. Given how important shoulders are for offensive linemen, the injury is one that could plague him for the rest of the season.

Senior offensive guard Mason Walters -- A game-time decision against Kansas State after apparently suffering a foot injury the game prior, much of the speculation around Walters was that he was effectively benched in favor of sophomore Sedrick Flowers, though Walters did play spot minutes after he was termed a game-time decision.

Junior linebacker Jordan Hicks -- The team's leading tackler just can't stay on the field, as a ruptured Achilles tendon ended yet another season for the former five-star prospect. Unlike his previous injuries, however, it is difficult to return from such injuries and maintain athleticism -- in fact, NBA players who have suffered such injuries have rarely returned to previous form.

Sophomore linebacker Dalton Santos -- Yet another game-time decision last weekend, Santos will have to play a much larger role for the rest of the season with Hicks out and especially against Iowa State with junior linebacker Steve Edmond suspended for a hit to the head of Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters on Saturday. With Edmond still continuing to struggle in space, the Horns need a healthy and effective Santos moving forward.

Junior safety Josh Turner -- Of the preseason injuries that limited several other players at the start of camp, Turner's hip injury was the only one that resulted in any missed time, as he was held out for the season opener before returning against BYU. Fortunately for Texas, the rest of the two-deep in the secondary has avoided injuries.

***

When Brown talked in the preseason about the team's need for better luck this year, he didn't mean having 15 contributors or potential contributors go down between the start of fall camp and the fourth game of the season. To a significant extent, the ability of the Longhorns to stay competitive for the rest of the season will depend the health of key contributors like Ash and Johnson, though the offensive line at least survived the effective loss of two starters to dominate what may be an extremely weak Kansas State defensive line.

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