Notre Dame might be without all three of its top receivers Saturday when the Fighting Irish play Navy in the Meadowlands. For sure, the Irish will be missing two of their best pass catchers.
Coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday that speedy slot receiver Theo Riddick, a converted running back who is second on the team in catches, is out with a severely sprained right ankle that has been placed in a cast.
Notre Dame had already lost star tight end Kyle Rudolph for the season with a torn hamstring that required surgery last Friday.
And leading receiver Michael Floyd, who had three TD catches Saturday against Western Michigan while playing with a sore hamstring, will likely not practice this week, Kelly said. His status will be a game-time decision at the Meadowlands.
Riddick has 38 catches for 406 yards and three touchdowns and was injured in the second half Saturday against Western Michigan.
"We were fearful that it would require surgery. It doesn't look like it will need surgery. But this is something that's going to take some time for it to heal," said Kelly, whose first Notre Dame team is 4-3 with three straight wins.
"I can't give you a specific date and time. We'll see after we get the cast off here and the healing process begins as to what that looks like."
Freshman TJ Jones, already a starter, will move into Riddick's slot receiver spot and John Goodman is expected to take over Jones' post at wide receiver. Duval Kamara, who has only one catch this season, would replace Floyd if he can't go.
Kelly said Jones played the slot position in the spring when Riddick was banged up and shouldn't have any trouble with the transition. Jones has 12 catches this season — eight in the first three games and just four in the last four. Goodman, who's also been returning punts, has 10 catches, including five in a loss to Stanford.
The new faces catching the football for quarterback Dayne Crist shouldn't limit the offense, Kelly said. Tyler Eifert, who took over last week for Rudolph, had a TD catch against Western Michigan.
"You don't want to, obviously, lose two guys like this. But it's the nature of college football," Kelly said.
"We're prepared for it. They've gotten enough reps throughout the course of the summer, preseason camp, for us to be confident that we can be successful with our offense as it is."
Kelly said right tackle Taylor Dever, sidelined the previous two games with a hamstring injury, should return this week but will have to battle Matt Romine for playing time. Zack Martin, who'd moved from left tackle to right while Dever was hurt, will return to the left side.
Kelly also said leading rusher Armando Allen, slowed last week by a sore hip, should be much improved and ready to go against the Midshipmen.
After Notre Dame won 43 straight games in the series, Navy has captured two of the last three — both in South Bend. Navy's 23-21 victory last year started Notre Dame on a final-month tailspin in which the Irish lost their final four games, a skid that ultimately cost Charlie Weis his job.