Teammates expect Braxton Miller back

September, 9, 2013
9/09/13
4:42
PM ET
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Maybe it was routine, maybe it was coincidence, but a couple of Braxton Miller's favorite targets just happened to roll into the training room around the same time he was rehabbing his knee sprain.

Philly Brown didn't even know exactly what the injury was his quarterback was receiving treatment for on Monday morning, perhaps one sure sign the wide receiver isn't concerned about it lasting long. Jeff Heuerman was aware of the specifics of the play the knocked Miller out, but the tight end also didn't seem all that worried after chatting with the focal point of the Ohio State offense.

[+] EnlargeKhalil Mack
Kirk Irwin/Getty ImagesBraxton Miller has a history of quick recoveries, which has his teammates feeling optimistic.
While the coaching staff might not be quite as convinced yet that Miller will be on the field on Saturday at California as he worked through a 48-hour period to gauge the progress of a sprained MCL in his left knee, his teammates in the passing game clearly anticipate him being available to throw them the ball, regardless of his uncertain status early in the week.

"I saw him [Monday] morning; he was in here getting treatments, and I talked to him for a few minutes, so he's kind of taking it day to day," Heuerman said. "But Braxton is a tough a kid, and if he can play, he'll definitely be out there playing for the team. I know our trainers and our coaching staff will do everything they can to have him ready, and I know how bad he wants to be out there.

"If he can be out there, he'll definitely be out there."

Obviously neither Heuerman nor Brown are doctors, and coach Urban Meyer made clear that he wouldn't be rushing Miller back to the practice field or to a decision until a more clear picture of what he's dealing with develops. The first step was making it through the first two days after the injury, which in this case happened on the seventh snap of the opening drive of Ohio State's easy win over San Diego State on Saturday.

Miller didn't return to action after an evaluation in the locker room, though Meyer has indicated he could have put his star junior back behind center if he was needed. If not for that precautionary measure, Miller would have yet another example of the physical resiliency he has shown with the Buckeyes, filed away with his in-game return from big shots like he took last year at Michigan Sate or his remarkably rapid recovery from a hospital visit during the Purdue game last year back to the starting lineup the next week.

And if he's healthy enough for a similar turnaround this week, the Buckeyes won't stand in his way at game time on Saturday.

"If he's healthy to play and play like Braxton plays, which he's not your pocket quarterback and does a lot of things us ... he'll certainly go," Meyer said. "We are not saving him or holding back. This will be everything we've got to win the game.

"I just think we have to always have Plan B ready."

That hasn't been an issue for the Buckeyes, who haven't missed a beat with Kenny Guiton coming off the bench at times to relieve Miller during the program's current 14-game winning streak.

But despite Guiton's abilities to fill in and operate the spread offense without Ohio State needing to scale back its play-calling all that much, there is a reason Miller is the starter and finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting last season. And for all the confidence those targets have in Guiton to get them ball just as well as Miller might, they are clearly expecting the latter to plow through that rehab they checked on Monday and resume throwing to them again pretty quickly.

"I'd be very surprised [if he doesn't play]," Brown said. "Braxton is a real hard worker, and I saw him earlier, he was in the training room rehabbing, so I expect him to do what a leader does. He'll be in the training room, and I think he'll be fine.

"I think it's basically if he's healthy, he's going to play if he feels good enough and confident enough with whatever the injury is -- I don't even know what it is."

Based on Miller's history of bouncing back quickly, the latest injury might not even last long enough for Brown to find out anything about it.

Austin Ward | email

Ohio State/Big Ten reporter

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