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OU linebacker Travis Lewis out 8 weeks with broken toe

With Lewis projected to be sidelined eight weeks, Corey Nelson will fill in for Lewis at weakside linebacker. Tony Jefferson, who was working out at free safety, stays at nickelback. Javon Harris is the starting free safety.
By Mike Baldwin, Staff Writer, mbaldwin@opubco.com Modified: August 9, 2011 at 10:56 am •  Published: August 9, 2011

/articleid/3593003/1/pictures/1483058">Photo - Oklahoma's Travis Lewis (28) celebrates the Sooners' win during the Bedlam college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Oklahoma State University Cowboys (OSU) at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma's Travis Lewis (28) celebrates the Sooners' win during the Bedlam college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Oklahoma State University Cowboys (OSU) at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Bob Stoops said the sophomore from Dallas Skyline had as good a spring as anyone on the roster, which is why defensive coordinator Brent Venables was trying to find Nelson a position.

“What we're looking for more than anything is to find ways to get players on the field that have shown the knack the last year for making plays, instinctive guys,” Venables said Saturday at Media Day. “It's a challenge to find ways to fit them on the field.”

That's no longer an issue. Nelson will fill in for Lewis, who has been a huge Nelson fan since he arrived on campus.

“You better look out for that guy,” Lewis said last season. “He's going to be better than I was.”

At Big 12 Media Day in Dallas, Lewis compared Nelson's ball-hawking skills to Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu.

“He has tremendous instincts,” Lewis said. “His greatest asset is finding the ball. He's young. He's hungry. We need to get him on the field any way we can.” Ironically, his spot on the field is Lewis' position.

Nelson's game might resemble Polamalu's relentless pursuit. But their personalities and hair styles are distinct opposites.

Polamalu is brash, outspoken. Nelson has a quiet confidence.

Nelson's hair is closely shaved. Polamalu's billowing curly locks go halfway down his back, obscuring the name on his jersey.

If he's going to be compared to Polamalu, maybe Nelson needs to grow his hair out.

“I'll work on that,” Nelson said, smiling.

His immediate concern is filling in for his mentor. The position might be different than projected when two-a-days began last week, but Nelson has gained confidence.

“I believe in myself and I believe in the players around me. That helps a lot,” Nelson said. “I'm just trying to work hard, stay focused and stay humble.”

How will OU's defense change without Lewis? Analysis: Lewis injured Chat Recap: Mike Baldwin

Oklahoma's reserve linebackers

Joseph Ibiloye: Started four games last season at strongside linebacker.

Jaydan Bird: Most likely the backup to both Tom Wort and Corey Nelson.

Daniel Franklin: Could be added to the two-deep roster behind Nelson.

Londell Taylor: Former minor league baseball player could get an opportunity.

Rashod Favors: A redshirt freshman from Fort Worth.

Aaron Franklin: A redshirt freshman from Marshall, Texas.

P.L. Lindley: True freshman from Round Rock can play inside and outside.

Frank Shannon: True freshman from Dallas Skyline more of a nickel back.

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