IOWA CITY — Sometimes, nothing can be something.
That proved to the be the case for Iowa linebacker Tyler Nielsen, who shrugged off a bandaged left hand during interviews after the Hawkeyes’ 41-31 win Saturday over Northwestern.
“It’s nothing. I’m fine. I’ll be fine,” he insisted.
Early Sunday, the senior underwent surgery on his hand to repair an injury he suffered during Saturday’s first half.
Nielsen, who led Iowa with 12 tackles as he moved from outside linebacker to start in place of the injured James Morris at middle linebacker, only sat out a couple of plays in the second quarter after suffering the injury before returning to the field.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz declined to discuss Nielsen’s situation after his weekly news conference Tuesday, saying only, “We have a lot of guys with bumps and bruises. Nobody has been ruled out.”
Hawkeyes linebackers haven’t exactly been a picture of health this season.
Nielsen has been in and out of action after suffering a foot injury during the first half of Iowa’s game at Iowa State.
Shane DiBona and Dakota Getz have suffered season-ending setbacks, and Anthony Hitchens joined Morris on the sidelines last weekend.
That led to some defensive creativity and a few extra nickel packages as only four linebackers — Nielsen, Christian Kirksey, Tom Donatell and Quinton Alston — saw action Saturday.
Morris, who missed his first start of the year because of ankle injury, expects to be back for Saturday’s 11 a.m. homecoming game with Indiana.
“We’ve had some bad luck, the linebackers,” Morris said. “I think it’s bad luck more so than the position. It’s part of football, something we’ve got to deal with. Tyler stepped in and did a good job for me last weekend, and that’s the way it works. You just deal with it.”
Ferentz labeled his team’s health typical for the midpoint of the season with a number of players nursing nagging, minor injuries.
He said Morris, Hitchens and starting defensive tackle Tom Nardo, who also sat out Saturday with an ankle injury, have a chance to return against the Hoosiers.
“They were all cleared last week, but I don’t know how effectively they would have played,” Ferentz said.
“We’ve had some experience shuffling guys around from one position to another over the past couple of seasons. We’re getting pretty good at that, and our players have handled it well. They’ve done a good job of stepping in where we have needed them.”
Ferentz said backup running back Jordan Canzeri was among the injured Hawkeyes last week, suffering a hamstring strain in practice last week.
Because he did not practice, the freshman was withheld from competition but was expected to return to practice Tuesday.
- Reserve quarterback A.J. Derby has completed his suspension. Coach Kirk Ferentz said the redshirt freshman “did a really nice job the last two weeks.” Ferentz said practice performance would determine where Derby falls on the depth chart this weekend.
- Ferentz said Iowa is preparing to face Hoosiers receiver Damarlo Belcher even though he is listed as questionable for this weekend and sat out the second half of Indiana’s game at Wisconsin on Saturday after aggravating a knee injury.
- Construction fences were being installed Tuesday around parking lots west of the UI Recreation Building and north of Kinnick Stadium, ending their use for game-day parking beginning this weekend as work begins on two projects, a new indoor practice facility and a transportation facility for the nearby University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
- Several hundred tickets remain for Saturday’s 11 a.m. game with Indiana.
Greenwood foundation established: A foundation has been established to assist with expenses that former Hawkeye Brett Greenwood and his family have incurred since the Pleasant Valley graduate collapsed during a workout at his prep alma mater Sept. 9.
In a release issued Tuesday, organizers said Greenwood’s heart stopped due to an abnormal heart rhythm, which resulted in injuries to his brain. Greenwood, who came out of an induced coma earlier this month, is currently working to regain strength and mobility.
Funds raised will be used to directly support Greenwood as he continues to recover.
Individuals who would like to contribute to the Brett Greenwood Foundation can do so in a number of ways. They will be accepted in person at any of 6,300 Wells Fargo banking locations nationwide, including 74 locations in Iowa, online at brettgreenwoodfoundation.com or by mail at: Attn. Brett Greenwood Foundation, Wells Fargo, 2001 Spruce Hills Dr., Bettendorf, IA 52722