- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Maryland found a left offensive tackle but lost a linebacker and maybe a running back yesterday.

The Terrapins moved tight end Derek Miller to left tackle after injuries and inexperience hampered several others trying to replace Stephon Heyer, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on Friday. Miller, a senior, switched positions because offensive tackle Scott Burley remained sidelined with back problems and Dane Randolph and Jared Gaither were shifted to right tackle to get more experience.

“We’re trying to buy some time to let these other players grow up,” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “I’m hoping that Dane and Jared, when they’re ready, will make the switch back. I didn’t see where we had a choice. Even if we lose another tackle we have to have some kind of answer and we’re out of tackles.”

Meanwhile, linebacker Erin Henderson was lost for the season with a torn ACL in his knee while running back Mario Merrills’ status for the opener against Navy on Sept.3 is uncertain after he sprained his ankle. The rash of injuries over the past week now also includes fullback Ricardo Dickerson (sprained ankle).

Friedgen arrived at 5a.m. yesterday to watch practice film. While the team invested in $1,000 knee braces for offensive linemen, the numerous injuries have him taking a closer look at workout routines.

“It’s one of those things,” Friedgen said. “I’ve been trying to analyze what we’re doing. [We’ve] probably had less contact this year than in other years. We’re facing some adversity. We have to keep moving on and doing the best we can with what we’ve got.”

At least the Terps soon may regain deep snapper Tim Cesa, who has been sidelined by mononucleosis. Friedgen said Cesa’s return would bolster spirits.

“If we could get somebody back it would be real good,” Friedgen said. “We’re not where we want to be [in team preparation], but we’re not far from it.”

Miller’s move came one day after the Terps had him playing on the right side. The 275-pounder surrenders significant weight to opposing defensive ends, but Miller is considered a solid blocker with NFL prospects.

“I’ve been playing tight end for five years so I’ve been hearing all the calls the tackles and guards make,” Miller said. “I saw it coming when Stephon went down. I’m up to the challenge [but] it’s kind of frustrating in that as a tight end I knew almost everything.”

Said quarterback Sam Hollenbach: “The first time we lined up I didn’t know [Miller] was doing that and I thought we were in the wrong formation.”

Merrills’ loss would be especially harmful for a young offense. The featured running back has only 367 yards rushing over three seasons, but the senior impressed Friedgen over spring workouts. If Merrills can’t play against Navy, Keon Lattimore will start.

Henderson is a weakside linebacker who was switched from quarterback last year. He was hurt when his foot got caught in the turf during a block on Monday.

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