- - Monday, August 27, 2012

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Virginia Tech won’t have sophomore linebacker Tariq Edwards for its season-opening football game Monday against Georgia Tech, Hokies coach Frank Beamer confirmed Monday.

Edwards had surgery in March to fix a stress fracture in his left leg. He underwent a second operation earlier this month to remove a surgical screw that was causing him pain.

“He’s not going to play this game,” Beamer said during his weekly teleconference.

Edwards hasn’t practiced since the second procedure. Saturday, Edwards stood to the side during the Hokies’ final preseason scrimmage, watching senior wide receiver D.J. Coles, the former Goochland High School standout, return to full speed after offseason knee surgery.

Edwards couldn’t help feel a bit jealous.

“People that were doing therapy with you, like D.J., now he’s out there, running, catching, getting hit,” Edwards said. “But I’ll be back with him.”

It’s unclear when he’ll be ready to return and Edwards isn’t offering any guesses.

“I really can’t say,” said Edwards, who was third on the team in tackles last year with 71, including 11 1/2 for losses. “At first, I was like, ‘I want to be ready by the end of camp, Georgia Tech.’ It’s not there yet. I don’t want to keep giving target dates and then I’m not there.”

Tech has senior linebacker Bruce Taylor sliding over to play Edwards’s position, with sophomore Jack Tyler moving into Taylor’s spot. Tyler led the Hokies with 12 tackles in last year’s 37-36 win over Georgia Tech and its triple-option running game in Atlanta.

Edwards, meanwhile, has gone from two crutches, down to one crutch last week, to now walking freely and jogging for his rehab.

“It was a little setback,” Edwards said of the second surgery. “I feel like I’ll still be able to play this season and do that well. Everything, as far as my actual therapy, has been a lot faster than what I thought it would be.”

Beamer also said Monday that senior Michael Via, who had been challenging senior Vinston Painter at the right tackle position, has moved to right guard where he is competing with sophomore Brent Benedict for the starting job.

“We’re going to practice both of them and see who starts and who’s the backup,” Beamer said.

Via is coming off knee surgery that kept him out of spring practice. But he has experience all over the offensive line. If he doesn’t win a starting job, he could be a top backup at any number of spots.

“He’s a guy that he played a little center, then he played a little guard and then he’s played some tackle,” Beamer said. “He’s a guy we have a lot of confidence in. He’s smart, he can play all of them.”

Benedict, a transfer from Georgia, had a shaky spring but shed 10 pounds over the summer and has impressed coaches with his improved agility this preseason.

Most of the rest of the Hokies’ depth chart is fairly settled, though Beamer has yet to name a starting punter or kickoff man.

Two true freshmen, A.J. Hughes and Hunter Windmuller, are competing for the punting job. Beamer said Hughes is currently ahead of Windmuller.

“That’s how I think about it right now,” Beamer said. “Both of them have certainly had their moments.”

Beamer isn’t ready to name the starter yet.

“It’s going to continue,” Beamer said of the competition. “We got their stats in all the preseason, their times are just about equal. Their operation time, their hang-time, their distance.”

Beamer said place kicker Cody Journell, backup Brooks Abbott, Michael Branthover and Ethan Keyserling are still battling to handle the Hokies’ kickoff duties.

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