Merrell eyes season debut versus EMU
After a productive junior campaign and becoming a team captain, it was supposed to be a breakout season for Jamil Merrell.
But Two games into the season, the senior defensive end has yet to play in a game.
“I’m very eager to get on the field,” Merrell said. “But you just have to be patient. It’s not something you can rush, you got to be patient with it.”
Merrell has battled a lower leg injury since the beginning of the season, which caused the Bear, Del., native to miss the Rutgers football team’s first two games against Fresno State and Norfolk State.
Merrell is listed probable for Saturday’s contest against Eastern Michigan, though he knows things can change.
“I do see myself playing, but that’s the coaches’ call,” Merrell said. “I just have to be patient with it and listen to [the doctors] and see where it goes.”
Merrell has been in pads for the Scarlet Knights’ past two practices, where he has lined up on the edge as a pass rusher.
And even though Merrell believes he is physically almost back to playing condition, head coach Kyle Flood has sophomore Djwany Mera listed as the Knights’ starter.
“I think Djwany deserves to start,” Flood said. “We’ll make the final decision a little later in the week, but I’m very proud of Djwany. I think he has done a great job of seizing an opportunity. So often we preach to the younger players, ‘You don’t know when you’re going to get your chance.’ … When you get it, you have to take advantage of it.”
Mera has started at defensive end in each of the Knights’ first two contests. He has registered five tackles, including a half tackle for loss.
Merrell, meanwhile, will have two more days before the trainers decide if he can make his first appearance this season.
He believes he will be ready to go soon, whether it is Saturday or later.
“My mind is set and my motor isn’t going to change,” Merrell said. “Like I said, I just have to listen [to the doctors]. Whatever game I come back,
Flood said he is still not pleased with Rutgers’ cleanness in practice, though he said it is not unusual for that to be the case at this point in game preparation.
The Knights installed more packages for their game against the Eagles, but Flood said there is still more of the game plan to implement.
“I hope we can become more and more consistent,” Flood said. “Last week, we took advantage of some short fields, and until the second half we didn’t drive the ball the way I wanted to drive the ball. When you play clean football, not every drive is going to drive the field, but you’ll have more consistency of drives.”
Temperatures reached as high as 107 degrees yesterday on the turf practice field, according to Flood.
The Knights are not new to hot practices this season, as they practiced inside the Bubble twice, where temperatures reached to as high as 103 degrees.
“I think it’s good for your team and certainly will test your younger players to make sure they can focus throughout the duration of the plays throughout the duration of a two-hour practice,” Flood said.
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