SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Syracuse coach Doug Marrone knows that injuries are part of football. Still, his Orange are hurting about as much as he can handle.
A handful of players have been lost for the season to injuries — the latest being nose tackle Ollie Haney (torn muscle in chest) — and about 18 did not practice Monday, including free safety Phillip Thomas, who had to have a wisdom tooth extracted.
"It's unbelievable. It's like every day," said Marrone, who also doesn't have a full complement of scholarship players. "I've lived my life well. I've done a lot of good deeds. I'm hoping somewhere along the line it starts to pay off. I don't think we deserve some of the things that are happening right now. We need everyone. We really can't afford to have any injuries."
While several players were held out of Monday afternoon practice to nurse injuries, wideouts Van Chew and Alex Lemon and kicker Ryan Lichtenstein among them, adding to Marrone's woes were the absences of three freshmen.
After practicing for the first two weeks of camp, defensive end Jason Bromley, linebacker Malcolm Cater, and defensive back Keon Lyn now have to sit while the NCAA checks their high school transcripts to make sure they're eligible to play.
Marrone said it was normal procedure for many teams at this juncture of the preseason and he expected all three to get the green light soon. Cater had been making nice strides as the backup to starting middle linebacker Derrell Smith.
Those lost for the season to injury include fullback Carl Cutler, tight end Cody Catalina, receiver Jarrod West, defensive end Jared Kimmel, and cornerback Ri'Shard Anderson, who injured his right shoulder last week and will need surgery.
Haney joined them on Tuesday after an MRI revealed a torn left pectoral that also will require surgery.
"Every one of those players was going to play a role, and some of them were going to be starters," Marrone lamented.
At least veteran defensive backs Kevyn Scott and Shamarko Thomas are back in the fold after recovering from hamstring pulls. The hard-hitting Thomas donned all of his gear on Monday for the first time in the preseason and Scott was finally back after getting hurt the second day of camp.
"Those two players coming back is going to be a big boost for us," Marrone said.
Lemon, Chew and transfer Aaron Weaver top the list of receivers. Lemon played in all 12 games last season, including six starts, and made 29 catches, second on the school's list for receptions by a freshman, for 295 yards and a touchdown.
Chew also played in all 12 games in 2009, making six catches for 66 yards. Weaver, who transferred to Syracuse in January after Hofstra eliminated its football program, led the Pride last season with 63 receptions for 797 yards and four touchdowns.
Dorian Graham, Marcus Sales and Cody Morgan are competing for the fourth receiver slot. Sales had 28 receptions for 324 yards and three touchdowns last fall, while Morgan made the team as a walk-on prior to 2009 spring practice but did not play in any games last season.
"I don't know where it is going to end in camp, but right now he (Morgan) is doing a heck of a job," said Marrone, in his second year at his alma mater. "He is heavily in that mix. He is going after it and I give him a lot of credit. He has worked extremely hard."
Marrone also said he was happy with quarterback Ryan Nassib's progress as he prepares to take over as the starter.
"As a coaching staff, we're comfortable where he is," Marrone said. "He's working to get better. We need him to get better."
Nassib said the nagging injuries that have kept so many players on the sidelines is something he's grown accustomed to because it comes with the violent nature of the sport.
"Injuries are part of the game," Nassib said. "It gave them (other players) a chance to step up and show what they can do. They get a lot more reps. It's kind of how the game works. Someone goes down, somebody's got to be ready to take their place."
The Orange open the season at Akron on Sept. 4.