Senior defensive tackle Casey Walker returned to practice, as expected, Monday for the first practice of the bye week.
“It was good,” senior defensive end R.J. Washington said of having Walker back. “Me and Casey came in together, so it's always good seeing someone you've known for the last five years out there grinding with you.”
Walker left the team a few days before the season opener at UTEP while dealing with an undisclosed personal issue. After meeting with him last Wednesday, coach Bob Stoops announced that Walker would return to the team Monday.
Walker's return adds much-needed depth to the defensive line. In the opener at UTEP, seniors Jamarkus McFarland and David King played virtually every snap on the interior of the line.
In last week's win over Florida A&M, redshirt freshmen Jordan Phillips and Marquis Anderson played most of the second half, but they are still working toward earning meaningful snaps.
King moved inside from defensive end after senior tackle Stacy McGee was suspended indefinitely during fall camp.
Oklahoma has this week off before next Saturday's Big 12 opener at home against Kansas State, which is known for its powerful running attack.
“It's good seeing Casey, regardless, but then seeing him in practice and knowing we've got some more depth down inside where we need it ... we're gonna need it against K-State,” Washington said. “You don't have to worry necessarily about someone being undersized, because David can slide back out to defensive end.”
JEFFERSON SITS OUT MONDAY
Junior safety Tony Jefferson, who hurt his ankle Saturday against Florida A&M, didn't practice Monday.
“He's just out there watching, trying to stay healthy and stay off it a few days,” said senior cornerback Demontre Hurst. “He's taking advantage of the bye week. Doing what he has to do to understand the game plan for K-State.
“He's doing a lot of rehab right now and getting the mental reps. That's the positive thing.”
Senior Jesse Paulsen played in Jefferson's place after his injury Saturday.
HEUPEL: WITH MATURITY, FINCH WILL ‘CONTINUE TO EARN MORE TOUCHES'
Co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel was asked Monday about Roy Finch, the junior running back who was starting at the end of last season, worked more in the slot during fall camp and hasn't seen the field much through two games, except in mop-up duty against Florida A&M.
“Ultimately, we as a coaching staff, teammates, everybody are asking all of our guys to buy in and be disciplined in everything you do and how you approach everything on and off the field, because it's going to show up on game day at some point, too,” Heupel said. “As Roy continues to handle himself in a mature way and practice better, he's going to continue to earn more touches.”
In the second half Saturday, Finch played out of the backfield, ending with five carries, 50 yards and a touchdown. He has been one of the Sooners' main kick returners through both games, though.
BEYER GIVES UP FOOTBALL
OU lineman commit Matt Beyer tweeted Monday that he was giving up the sport.
“Thank you for all the memories guys! Football has truly been great to me! I love you all! It was just time for me to hang up the pads,” Beyer posted.
Beyer (6-foot-6, 275 pounds) was a big part of the offensive line at San Antonio Ronald Reagan, where he was teammates last season with current Sooners Trevor Knight and Connor Knight.
Rivals.com reported the decision was made due to health issues.
Beyer is the second Sooners commitment in the last year to be forced to give up football before arriving in Norman. Last year, tight end commitment Laith Harlow had to give up the game due to back injuries. Harlow, from Florida, was still granted a scholarship and is now a student at OU.
Center Ben Habern also had his career ended due to injuries before this season, as did redshirt freshman tackle Dylan Dismuke.
Beyer's decision would leave Tulsa Union's Dalton Rodriguez as the lone offensive line commitment.
BROWN ‘GONNA BE FINE,' NORVELL SAYS
Receiver Justin Brown “looked like Mike Tyson punched him in the chest,” after sustaining a bruised chest plate during Saturday's win over Florida A&M, said co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell. But Brown will be OK.
“I think he's gonna be fine,” Norvell said. “He just kind of came down on the football and kind of bruised his chest plate a little bit.”
Brown, a senior, transferred in from Penn State in the aftermath of the child-abuse scandal. Saturday, he caught two passes for 55 yards, which included a huge 46-yard reception down the sideline. He's also made a big impact on special teams; Saturday, he returned three punts for a total of 102 yards and almost scored in the first quarter.