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Friday, September 27, 2013

Rutgers' Brandon Coleman sees targets drop

Brandon Coleman's four catches are his least production in a three-game span since he became a full-time starter a year ago. (AP Photo)

By Tyler Barto
Twitter: @Tyler_Barto

Quint Kessenich, an ESPN sideline reporter, touched on a conversation he shared with Razorbacks defensive coordinator Chris Ash last Saturday about Rutgers' Brandon Coleman during the teams' 3:30 p.m. telecast.

"Looking at film, he just doesn't look like he has the same separation skills," Ash told Kessenich. "Yeah, he's Jurassic Park coming off the bus at 6-foot-6, but that downhill, that downfield speed he hasn't seen on tape from Coleman."

Coleman denied the claim Thursday. Still, he admits his offseason knee surgery will require monitoring for the entire season. Head coach Kyle Flood said he wanted to rest Coleman during the team's bye week. 

Any update on Coleman's status will now come exclusively from Flood. Questions directly to players about health-related issues are prohibited, per an updated policy. 

Coleman, meanwhile, has four catches in the last three games. It is the least productive stretch of his career since he became a full-time starter in 2012. 

"I really don't think about it too much. I think about the situation," Coleman said. "I've said it in training camp and I said it all summer: We have a lot of other weapons on this offense. Now everybody's starting to get exposed to them in a good way. I'm just happy we have other weapons on this offense that we can go to other than me."

["Yeah, [Brandon Coleman's] Jurassic Park coming off the bus ... but that downhill, that downfield speed [Chris Ash] hasn't seen." — Quint Kessenich]

His production shouldn't be alarming. He is still on a comparable pace to last season's 43 receptions. His previous high for catches in a game since becoming a full-time starter was six — he caught 10 on Aug. 29 at Fresno State.

IN PRINT: Gary Nova, Rutgers running more plays per game

But Coleman's targets have been skewered. Three other receivers have at least 10 catches, including Quron Pratt, who has emerged as a safety valve. Coleman's 12.4 yards-per-catch average is fourth on the team.

Offseason surgery kept Coleman, second on Rutgers' all-time receiving touchdowns list, out of spring practice. The staff kept him to largely individual drills during training camp. His health remains Rutgers' top priority.

"I'm doing everything the coaching staff and medical staff talked about," Coleman said. "We're all on the same page."

MORE: Gary Nova explains his stance under center

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