Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney reported good news and bad news on the injury front when he spoke with the media Monday afternoon.
It sounds as if the third-ranked Tigers will have middle linebacker James Skalski when they play No. 2 Notre Dame in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 19. However, the news is not so good for his backup, Jake Venables.
Swinney indicated Venables will likely miss the game after breaking his arm against Virginia Tech on Saturday.
“He has to have surgery tomorrow. I think he will be out,” the Clemson coach said. “I have not gotten that confirmed, but I do know he is going to have surgery tomorrow and will have to have a plate put in there. I do not anticipate him being available.”
Venables broke his arm on the last play of the first quarter during the Tigers’ 45-10 victory in Blacksburg over the weekend. He was in the game after Skalski was removed. The senior linebacker complained about his groin being sore after the Hokies’ first offensive possession.
Swinney said after the game they took Skalski out as precautionary measure considering he did have surgery on the groin the week prior to the Syracuse game on Oct. 24. He missed the Syracuse, Boston College and Notre Dame games because of the injury.
However, on Monday, Swinney said he is not concerned that Skalski could miss the ACC Championship Game.
“Anything can happen. It is football,” Swinney said. “Every time you step in between the lines it is a tough game and anything can happen. As far as where we are today, I think he is in a good spot.”
Swinney also gave an update on Justyn Ross. He said the Clemson receiver will be heading to Pittsburgh on Tuesday to meet with his neurosurgeon, Dr. David Okonkwo, to discuss his football future. Ross had surgery in June to prepare his spine.
In October, Ross was given the green light to practice and has been practicing ever since. After practice on Oct. 21, Swinney reported the Clemson receiver was in full pads, “And he did all of our individual and all of our receiver work. All of routes versus air. Man, you forget how special he is.”
Ross has not participated in full contact drills, but the fact he is already back out on the field and practicing as much as they will allow him to, is a good sign for his future.
Swinney said this past Saturday they were hoping to get some good news regarding the future of Ross’ playing career.
“We are just hoping that they will clear him to play football,” the Clemson head coach said at after the Virginia Tech game. “I don’t have any expectation that he would be able to play this year. He thinks he can play. It won’t be because Justyn doesn’t want to play. That is for sure.
“But I am excited about him having his appointment this week. I hope everybody will keep him in their prayers because this will be a big week for him as he goes up to Pittsburgh and kind of gets the next steps for him. We are just really praying for the best.”
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