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Tech LB Tariq Edwards still working his way into top shape

- - Wednesday, September 26, 2012

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Tariq Edwards may have returned to the field for the Virginia Tech football team Saturday, but defensive coordinator Bud Foster said the junior linebacker is still a week or two away from really being ready to contribute and challenge for a starting role.

"He's probably 85 percent, I'm guessing, right now," Foster said of Edwards, who underwent two surgeries this offseason to fix a stress fracture in his left leg. "Hopefully he just continues to improve and get better. Where he is right now, I'd say it's hard for him. He can give us good solid depth right now. I still think he's a couple weeks away from being where we'd like him to be and where he'd like to be."

Edwards made one tackle in his 12 plays during the Hokies' 37-0 victory against Bowling Green.

"I still feel it a little bit. A little aching. A little soreness," Edwards said. "But during the game, I just had so much adrenaline running that I really just wasn't thinking about it."

It was Edwards' first action of the year. He had surgery in March when doctors implanted a rod in his left leg to reduce the pain of a stress fracture in his shin. He had hoped to be ready for the season opener. But in August, with Edwards still feeling pain in his leg, doctors removed one of two surgical screws, setting back Edwards' return.

"It's getting better, a lot better," Edwards said this week. "It's not 100 percent yet, but it feels 100 percent better without that screw. It's getting there. It's not there yet, but it's getting there."

With Edwards out, senior Bruce Taylor slid to Edwards' "backer" position, and junior Jack Tyler took Taylor's spot as the team's "mike" linebacker.

Both have played well. Tyler leads Virginia Tech (3-1) with 42 tackles entering Saturday's game against Cincinnati at FedEx Field, and Taylor is third with 23 stops.

Taylor said that when Edwards returns to starting form, Taylor could rotate between the two positions, alternating with both Edwards and Tyler.

Tech coach Frank Beamer said no decision has been made on how the Hokies will use the linebackers when they're all healthy.

"I think we need to see where Tariq is and then decide how we're going to do things," Beamer said.

Before the season, it seemed clear that Tyler would move to the second team. But the 6-foot-1, 236-pound Oakton native, who joined Tech as a walk-on, has played so well that may no longer be the case.

For his part, Tyler said he's not worrying about what will happen when Edwards returns and said he's eager to have Edwards back healthy.

"I think he's getting better every day," Tyler said. "I don't think he's where he wants to be. He's getting better. You can see he's improving every day, he's working at it. He wants to get back on that field."

Left guard David Wang still could be a week away from returning to the field. He limped through practice Monday and Tuesday in a blue, limited-contact jersey.

"David practiced a little bit (Monday), and was hobbling a little bit, so we'll see how he does this week," Beamer said.

Tech releases its official injury report on Thursdays.

One injury the Hokies apparently don't have to worry about is the one quarterback Logan Thomas suffered to his right thumb on a rushing play Saturday. Though Thomas said after the game that his thumbnail nearly had been pulled off, on Tuesday he said it was completely healed.

"It's all good," Thomas said. "I'm good to go now. I've got no worries. It's reattached."

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