STILLWATER — Let's recap the last two weeks for Wes Lunt.
Sept. 15, the Oklahoma State starting quarterback injured his left knee early in the Cowboys' victory against Louisiana-Lafayette. He was placed in a cast that immobilized his leg shortly after.
Last Tuesday, ESPN cameras captured Lunt transporting himself around the Cowboys' football facility on crutches — and J.W. Walsh getting the vast majority of the quarterback work during practice — when the network was in town to feature OSU on ESPNU's All Access show.
But Monday, Cowboy coach Mike Gundy said during his weekly news conference that the medical staff was encouraged by how rapidly Lunt was healing, and that the cast was scheduled to be taken off that day and replaced by a removable device. Additionally, Lunt “or” Walsh was listed as the starter for Saturday night's Big 12 opener against Texas.
Gundy even dangled this possibility in front of the media:
“I think he'll be out there with us before the end of the week.”
That's a vague statement, possibly by design. Anything that hints Lunt could play would force the Longhorn defense to prepare for both a pocket passer in Lunt and a dual-threat quarterback in Walsh.
So what are the chances, really, that Lunt takes the field Saturday? Because there's a difference between being healthy enough to walk around while wearing a brace, being able to resume practicing, being available to play in a game and being ready to start in a prime-time, nationally televised contest against one of the early favorites to contend for the Big 12 title.
“Out there with us” could mean full-blown practicing. Or it could also mean working on the side with strength and conditioning coach Rob Glass, a common activity for players recovering from injury, rather than participating in any drills or live reps.
Yes, Lunt has likely stayed involved in learning the game plan, regardless of his injury status, by going to meetings and film sessions. But Walsh got the first-team reps in practice last week, and Gundy expected the same for Tuesday's session, and possibly Wednesday's.
“If he were to come around enough to give us something, most of his reps would come on a Thursday,” Gundy said.
Even if Lunt does return to practice Thursday, that is a much lighter workout that focuses on fine tuning the game plan. It's not quite a walk-through, but not a full practice.
Last season, veteran Brandon Weeden may have been able to miss a Tuesday and/or Wednesday practice because of injury and still been prepared to play on Saturday. But those reps are especially crucial for a true freshman like Lunt, offensive coordinator Todd Monken said. Then tack on the fact that the Cowboys will be facing a highly regarded UT defense.
Friday's weekly injury report could give more information on Lunt's status for Saturday's game. Or it could list Lunt as “questionable” to play. Gundy wouldn't completely shoot the possibility down at the top of the week.
But, realistically, it's very unlikely that Lunt sees the field.