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November 1, 2012

Squad can hardly afford another lineman going down

NORMAN — Every time one of Oklahoma’s offensive linemen winces, the entire team feels the pain. There’s been a lot of aching this season.

On Wednesday, Sooner coach Bob Stoops said the status of left tackle Lane Johnson remains questionable. A decision could wait until game time on Saturday at Iowa State. If he can’t go, he’ll become the third starter from the Sooners’ preseason depth chart to miss a game and fourth to find his way on to the injured list.

The only consolation is Johnson’s injury won’t end his season like the career-ending neck injury to center Ben Habern and the season-ending knee injuries to guards Tyler Evans and Nila Kasitati.

“We’re thin on the line right now. We have tough guys battling injuries and playing through pain,” quarterback Landry Jones said. “All the credit in the world to them. They’re toughing it out and giving it their best effort.”

The effort hasn’t been an issue. Despite the injuries, Jones has only been sacked 10 times in 264 passing attempts. The Sooners struggled to run the ball in the loss to Notre Dame, but they’re still averaging 5.3 yards per carry.

However, the attrition is part of a football season.

Center Gabe Ikard met with reporters without so much as a limp, but even he admitted it’s rare to be a Sooner offensive lineman and still be able to move without discomfort.

“I feel like I need to wear a splint just to fit in on the line. I’m the weirdo that doesn’t have one on,” he said.

Making through a full season healthy is tough for linemen. There are the constant collisions and bodies crashing around them on every snap. It’s almost impossible to avoid the awkward twist over a long season.

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