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Burkhead USM

Burkhead’s back

Running back Rex Burkhead practiced for the first time on Monday after suffering a grade two MCL sprain in the season opener against Southern Mississippi. He wore a brace on his left knee, but his spirits were high following practice.

“I hate just watching everything go on but it puts things in a different perspective,” Bukhead said of his absence. “It makes you hungry, it makes you work.”

Burkhead said he was slightly apprehensive making cuts at the start of practice, as he expected, but that faded as practice went on. In Burkhead’s absence, Nebraska’s three back-ups — Ameer Abdullah, Braylon Heard, and Imani Cross — rushed for 441 yards in two games. Abdullah led the way, setting career highs in yards and carries in each of the past two games and scoring four touchdowns on the ground.

“They’ve done a tremendous job,” Brukhead said of his backfield mates. “That’s what they bring to the table. It wasn’t a surprise to me at all. It just shows how multiple our backfield is.”

Having to find carries for all four of those talented backs is a good problem to have for offensive coordinator Tim Beck as the team prepares for Idaho State.

“They are all deserving,” Beck said. “Just because Rex is back doesn’t mean we are going to push those guys away Saturday. They are a big part of our offense and they always have been, and they will continue to be a part of our offense.”

But having Burkhead back will pay dividends beyond just what he does on the field.

“He means a lot to our team,” Beck said. “He’s not just another tailback.”