With deteriorating depth inside, Rutgers could turn to David Milewski at tackle
|Head coach Kyle Flood, right, will oversee a shallow interior defensive line Saturday at SMU. David Milewski could see time at defensive tackle. (AP Photo)|
By Tyler Barto
Don't be surprised to see David Milewski, a 250-pound former linebacker, line up along the interior defensive line Saturday at SMU.
Milewski says he expects to play some defensive tackle after top reserve Kenneth Kirksey suffered a triceps injury last week in practice.
"We like to keep a good rotation to make sure everyone stays fresh," Milewski said Wednesday. "Kenneth going down hurts our team a lot — he's a really good player."
Milewski has 11 tackles in four games, along with a pass breakup and a fumble recovery. As a reserve end, Milewski plays significantly in line coach Jim Panagos' rotation, especially in Rutgers' 30 package, which it uses on passing downs.
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He expects to play the three-technique spot, which lines up on the outside shoulder of a guard. In such cases, he could line up next to Sayreville High School (N.J.) teammate Daryl Stephenson, a match at both nose tackle and three-technique.
"If you're playing three-technique or the nose, you're talking the center or guard, really big guys, on you right away," Milewski said. "You have to be explosive with your hands and physical inside to make sure you maintain gap integrity."
Milewski will be undersized inside, but he's earned Rutgers' trust as a veteran. Another tackle, Al Page, is out with a shoulder injury.
Any update on players' status will now come exclusively from head coach Kyle Flood. Questions directly to players about health-related issues are prohibited, per an updated policy.
["You have to be explosive with your hands and physical inside." — David Milewski]
Milewski said he caught himself reminiscing recently with roommates Taj Alexander and Michael Burton, who each changed positions in Piscataway. He said he would've switched to defensive line right away if he could.
Rutgers will need a quicker transition from Milewski this week to defensive tackle with depth compromised.
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