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Injured Neb RB Burkhead is in limbo for Minnesota

Associated Press Modified: November 13, 2012 at 2:47 pm •  Published: November 13, 2012
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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Rex Burkhead would love to say he'll play Saturday when Nebraska meets Minnesota on senior day.

He can't, though, because he just doesn't know. It's been this way for weeks.

The 2011 All-Big Ten running back sprained his left knee in the opener of his final season at Nebraska and has aggravated the injury twice. He's missed five games and had to leave early in three others.

One day, the knee will feel good, and he'll think he can play that week.

The next day, the knee hurts and he knows he won't.

"I think it kills him every week," coach Bo Pelini said. "That's just who he is."

Burkhead was on the practice field Monday and participated on a limited basis. He said he's "pretty close" to being able to play in a game, and he's doing all he can to make it happen against the Gophers.

"My last home game here," he said. "Being a senior, it would mean the world to get out on the field."

The native of Plano, Texas, is the most popular player on the team judging by the overwhelming number of fans dressed in No. 22 jerseys on game days.

Last season, he averaged 104 yards a game and his 284 carries were two shy of the school record. His 1,357 yards were the most by a Nebraska running back since 1997.

A similar season this year would have moved him past Ahman Green as Nebraska's No. 2 all-time rusher behind 1983 Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier. As it is, Burkhead is sixth with 3,059 yards.

Ameer Abdullah has exceeded expectations as Burkhead's replacement, with five 100-yard games. Burkhead said he's been impressed with how the 5-foot-9, 185-pound Abdullah has been able to run effectively inside the tackles.

"He's done a tremendous job all around," Burkhead said. "Not just running the ball but pass blocking, catching passes out of the backfield, just everything."

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