Senior safety Eddie Elder dealt with that earlier this year after having to sit out all of spring practice following surgery on his shoulder to fix an injury he played through most of the season with.
Now being back in fall camp, Elder is once again working with the first defensive unit despite missing a lot of field time with his teammates.
“It’s a relief,” Elder said of being back, “you know ball players don’t ever like to be out, watching the team play, seeing everyone else get better. It makes it seem like you’re getting worse. It’s good being back so I can get back at it.” .
While Elder has looked good through the first few fall practices, there no doubt is some rust to be shaken off after missing so much time actually being out on the field and making reads.
“They are all a little rusty,” coach Dennis Erickson pointed out. “You can say that about all those guys that were hurt (in spring). Mike (Willie), Deveron (Carr), and all those guys it has taken them a little while to get the rust off. He’ll be fine.” .
Elder reported to Fall camp in great shape due to working hard in the offseason to not only rehab his shoulder, but to make up for lost time that his teammates had in both the weight room and on the field.
“It was about commitment,” Elder admitted. “When everyone else was getting better you’re still behind so you’re trying to easily catch up every week and when everyone has breaks, you can’t have any breaks. You need to progress, so that’s what I’ve been doing, just working on my footwork and my wind. I’ve never been good at conditioning so since my shoulder was bad I still had my legs, so I just ran.” .
Being in the first group in a spot he not only hoped to retake, but expected to be at when healthy is something that Elder is not taking for granted, which appears to be a theme amongst the players this fall. Everyone knows that nothing is given and hard work must be put in.
“It is expected, but just because I’m a returner doesn’t mean I can take things from granted,” Elder acknowledged. “There are people behind me that are hungry so I have to watch my back every day.
“You don’t want to be that guy to say, ‘what if,’ or ‘if I could’ve done this,’ so you have to leave everything out on the field. On the practice field, in the classrooms, you don’t want to have any regrets so that’s what I plan on doing.”
Elder comes back to a defense that as well as the unit played last season, only lost one starter in Lawrence Guy. Needless to say, expectations for the group are high, and so are Elder’s for himself.
“For me I’m just trying to do my best to help out the team and take a leadership role, such as Max (Tabach),” Elder said of his former teammate and fellow safety. “Max even though he was a quiet guy he was a leader in the secondary. He knew his job, he did his job, so I’m trying to take that role.
“As a team, everyone knows our expectations so we don’t really try to pay attention to what everyone thinks. We know what we have and we’ll see what happens.”