Tressel: Don#8217;t worry about Wells

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS — Coach Jim Tressel has some reassuring words for all those fretful Ohio State fans who have had trouble sleeping since tailback Chris ‘‘Beanie’’ Wells hit the deck with a right foot injury on Saturday.

‘‘Tell them to worry about Gustav and Rita and those kinds of things,’’ Tressel said Tuesday. ‘‘Beanie’s going to be fine.’’

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Wells was in obvious pain in the moments after he fell to the turf in the third quarter of Saturday’s 43-0 victory over Youngstown State. He was almost dragging the foot, encased in an immobilizing boot, when he slowly returned to the sideline to watch the last few minutes of the blowout.

Yet Tressel didn’t slam the door on the possibility that Wells might still play in Saturday’s game against Ohio University. Wells’ status will be evaluated later in the week, Tressel said. The Bobcats are a five-touchdown underdog against the Buckeyes, who dropped a spot to No. 3 in this week’s AP Top 25.

‘‘I have the third vote. The first vote is the young person. … Then the medical people have a major vote,’’ Tressel said.

‘‘How you practice has a little bit to do with it especially as you get into the back end of the week. But when you have a veteran who’s had a lot of snaps and so forth, it’s not quite as critical. I’ll have that third and deciding vote, I guess.’’

That’s good news for Ohio State’s uneasy faithful. A crowd of more than 105,000 was reduced to silence when Wells, who rushed for more than 1,600 yards last season, fell backward on a handoff near the goal line. After he was checked out by doctors and trainers, he was helped off the field and taken to the locker room on a cart.

Ohio coach Frank Solich said whether Wells is or isn’t in the lineup really doesn’t have a big impact on what his team has to do.

‘‘Not really. As great a back as he is, the other guys that are stepping on the field can hurt you,’’ he said. ‘‘So it’s not like they’re going to abandon the running game. It’s not like they’re going to stop running the power play at you because he’s not in there.’’

Wells, who has not practiced with the Buckeyes this week, was seen walking in his stocking feet out of a meeting at the team’s training facility on Tuesday night. He was carrying the boot. He appeared to be walking gingerly, trying not to put his full weight on his right foot.

Buckeyes fans aren’t concerned about Wells’ availability against the Mid-American Conference’s Bobcats so much as this week’s new No. 1 team, Southern California, whom the Buckeyes travel to play Sept. 13.

Linebacker Marcus Freeman got a handle on just how concerned they were.

Over the weekend, he was recognized as he paid for his food at a fast-food Mexican restaurant.

‘‘And they’re like, ’How’s Beanie?’’’ Freeman said, laughing. ‘‘They didn’t ask anything about me. They’re just like, ’How’s Beanie doing?’’’

Wells was not permitted to speak with reporters. Tressel said he would probably be ‘‘in the whirlpool.’’

Immediately after the game, in his only public statement so far, Wells said through Ohio State spokeswoman Shelly Poe that he may have heard something ‘‘pop’’ in his foot.

‘‘I may have rolled it or planted wrong a play or two before,’’ he said. ‘‘Something just didn’t feel right. Then I think I felt a pop. But the X-rays are OK, so we’ll see how it feels in a day or two.’’

Tressel said team medical personnel had labeled Wells doubtful for the home game against Ohio, but then he saw him in the training room.

‘‘He said he felt great,’’ said Tressel, who declined to disclose anything about the injury, its severity, or what part of Wells’ foot was injured.

About the only light Tressel has shed on the injury came in his postgame remarks when he said that team doctors and trainers never described the injury as ‘‘turf toe.’’

Wells has been going through extensive daily treatments on his foot.

He had rushed for 111 yards on 13 carries against Youngstown State, opening the scoring on an untouched, 43-yard burst.

If he is held out of Saturday’s game, redshirt freshman Dan ‘‘Boom’’ Herron, sophomore Brandon Saine and senior Maurice Wells (no relation) would fill in.