Tyler Johnstone Out for 2014; Offseason Injury Bug Bites Nebraska, Oregon and USC

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There are not necessarily any more major injuries around college football this preseason than in year’s past. Nevertheless, the rash of season-ending injuries to prominent contributors is disconcerting.

It doesn’t help that the injury bug is seemingly biting the same programs, either.

The Oregon Ducks are the latest victim. Oregon already lost top returning wide receiver Bralon Addison to an ACL tear in April, and must now face the loss of its starting left tackle for the season.

Aaron Fentress of Comcast Sports Net Northwest reported Monday that Oregon left tackle Tyler Johnstone re-injured the knee he hurt last December against Texas.

Despite the seeming severity of the initial tear, Johnstone’s recovery was moving well ahead of schedule. During spring practices, he told reporters he was targeting a Week 1 return and his outlook hadn’t dampened at all a week ago.

“The doctor said just to take this fall camp time and get comfortable with it,” Johnstone said at last week’s Oregon media day, per The Oregonian‘s Andrew Greif. “Take it slow, don’t take it too fast. Just get comfortable and gain confidence and come back when you’re ready.”

Johnstone’s efforts to get back into action for the start of the 2014 season make this re-injury particularly unfortunate. If there’s any silver lining for the Ducks, it’s that their offensive line depth somewhat lessens the blow.

The same can’t be said for USC, which lost linebacker Jabari Ruffin to an ACL tear on Sunday.

Steve Sarkisian faces a difficult balancing act in his first season at USC. He’s attempting to get his new team up to speed in time for a game opponent in Fresno State without risking losing bodies, which has forced him to sit players as a precautionary measure.

Ruffin joins defensive lineman Kenny Bigelow on the season-long infirmary list. With just 67 scholarship players on the roster, USC can’t afford to lose any more players for the season.

Penn State faces a similar situation, and Monday announced the loss of tight end Adam Breneman for an indefinite duration.

No team has had worse luck with its collective health this offseason than Nebraska, however. While the Cornhuskers enjoy a full allotment of roster spots, their ranks have thinned quickly in the past week.

LeRoy Alexander’s season-long suspension compounded the loss of Charles Jackson to a knee injury.

Nebraska also lost linebacker Michael Rose to an ACL and running back Adam Taylor broke his ankle.