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Knee injury sidelines NU's Conteh
By Lindsey Willhite | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 11/6/2008 4:48 PM

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Two weeks ago, Northwestern boasted a pair of senior running backs that gave the Wildcats one of the Big Ten's finest backfields.

Now the nation's No. 24 team is down to its third- and fourth-string ball carriers for Saturday's key home game against No. 11 Ohio State.

Tyrell Sutton was lost for the regular season with a wrist injury at Indiana, and Omar Conteh has been lost for the foreseeable future as well. Conteh injured his left knee during Northwestern's practice on Wednesday and has been ruled out for Saturday's game.

Conteh, like all of the Wildcats, was wearing shorts Wednesday and was supposed to avoid contact and stay off the ground.

"Unfortunately, injuries are a part of football," NU coach Pat Fitzgerald said in a statement that accompanied the school's weekly injury report. "While we're disappointed for Omar, we're excited for the next man's opportunity, in this case Stephen Simmons, Jacob Schmidt and Scott Concannon."

That crew boasts 10 career carries for 20 yards.

Simmons, who returned a kick 99 yards for a touchdown last year against Ohio State, is a 5-foot-8, 175-pound scatback who has 8 career carries for 16 yards.

Schmidt, a powerful redshirt freshman who excels on special teams, carried twice this year for 4 yards.

Concannon has yet to rush in a game, though the redshirt freshman received extensive work during spring ball as one of the Wildcats' few healthy ball carriers.

NU also could turn to redshirt freshman Dan Persa, the third-string quarterback who spent some of spring ball at running back.

Persa's switch could be made easier with the expected return of senior quarterback C.J. Bacher.

He's listed as probable as his right hamstring, injured at Indiana, continues to heal.