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Rutgers takes advantage of bye week both on, off field

The Rutgers football team didn’t take the field last Saturday for the first time all season, but that didn’t stop one of its captains from spending an afternoon around the sport.

“(I) watched a ton of football,” said senior defensive tackle Darius Hamilton on what he did during the bye week. “Just taking it easy. This bye week probably looks different than my 19-year-old’s bye week … just resting whenever you can, coming in for treatment, just taking care of your body.”

His teammates all echoed the sentiment as they took advantage of a bye week that came later than usual this season to relieve the aches and pains accumulated from the three straight months of grueling practice weeks and intense game days.

“(It's) Big Ten football, there’s gonna be nicks and bruises, but it’s part of football, it’s what you sign up for,” said junior left guard Dorian Miller. “At the same time, you gotta take care of your body ... it’s not the 60s anymore, there’s enough technology to help recover, so (I) definitely took advantage of it.”

Perhaps the best news to come out of the bye week for the Scarlet Knights (2-6, 0-5) is the status of quarterback Giovanni Rescigno’s hamstring.

The sophomore injured his muscle after a quarter of action against Minnesota a little over a week ago, limiting his ability to use the mobility that earned him the starting spot over junior teammate Chris Laviano, but he said it feels “a lot better” after the week of rest.

Unfortunately for head coach Chris Ash and his staff, not all of the team recovered equally, with some remaining as injured as they were following the loss to the Golden Gophers and others still struggling to get back to full health.

Ash name-dropped senior right tackle J.J. Denman — who was carted off the field at High Point Solutions Stadium in the second half of Rutgers’ Homecoming loss to Illinois with an injury that caused him to lose his starting spot and play limited snaps against Minnesota — as well as juniors running back Robert Martin and cornerback Kiy Hester, who both did not play in Minneapolis, as players whose availability will be assessed throughout the week of practice.

“Injury-wise, we had some guys banged up in the Minnesota game before and after. We got some guys back out today practicing,” Ash said. “It will be decisions throughout the course of the week with some of them, if they are going to be able to play or not ... we'll see how they progress as the week goes.”

As players rested and recovered in between a light practice schedule, he and his coaching staff took time to evaluate them in order to identify areas that still need improvement as the season approaches its final third, Ash said.

The self-evaluation was just one of many small things the Knights did on their week-long break they hope will make a big difference — both in the immediate future as they prepare to host Indiana Saturday and in the long run.

“We got some practices in last week and had an opportunity to develop some of the younger players in the program. We had a got jump start on Indiana. We did some thorough self-evaluations through self-scouts, just going back through and looking at all areas of what we've done through the season up to this point and just trying to identify, continue to identify things that we needed to do a better job of. And then we had a chance to go out and recruit. So I thought it was a good week,” Ash said. “But we're definitely excited about getting back out on the practice field and preparing for our next Big Ten opponent.”

For updates on the Rutgers football team, follow @briannnnf and @TargumSports on Twitter.

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