Will Zach Really Be Back?

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Will quarterback Zach Collaros really be able to play in the Liberty Bowl only 49 days after breaking his right ankle?

Collaros motion.jpg

My first attempt at getting the inside scoop was from Zach's former housemate Derek Wolfe.

"I'm not going to comment on that right now, because I don't want to put anything out there that I shouldn't," said Wolfe.

Alright, how about Zach's fellow team captain JK Schaffer?

"It's not really my business to talk about," said Schaffer.  "I don't know any of the medical stuff and I try to stay out of that.  It's his business and he has enough people asking him about it."

So much for that idea.  Let's go straight to the source.

"If it's up to me I'll play," said Collaros.  "What it comes down to is what Coach Jones wants and what (trainer) Bob Mangine and Dr. Colosimo say."  

Not exactly the definitive answer I was hoping for.

But just when I thought that I was going to leave practice thinking that Zach's status for the bowl was still 50-50, head coach Butch Jones provided the strongest indication yet that Collaros will take the field in Memphis on December 31st.

"I would say right now it's 65 to 70 percent likely that he'll play," Coach Jones told me.  "We have one more practice on Thursday and then we're off for a couple of days, so we'll see when we report to Memphis how he feels.  But you can see that he's getting better every day.  That's obviously very encouraging."

Zach's ankle now includes a plate and two screws that were surgically attached on November 14th, and while he has taken most of the snaps at practice this week, the senior quarterback isn't finished with the rehab process.

"I spend about an hour in the morning doing rehab before practice," said Collaros.  "Then we have practice and after that, it's anywhere from an hour-and-a-half to three more hours.  When I get home, it's not like I'm doing rehab at my house, but I'm definitely icing it and following Bob's rules.

"The past couple of days - especially yesterday - I felt really good.  Today I was pretty sore after three straight days of practice, but I just have keep doing what I have to do in the training room and at home.  Hopefully, I'll be ready in 10 days."

I'll be honest.  When Zach was taken off the field on a cart after being hit by West Virginia's Bruce Irvin, I assumed his college career was finished.  Even after being told that there was a chance that he could recover in time for a bowl game, I remained skeptical.

But his teammates and coaches figured that if anyone could make it back that quickly, it was Zach Collaros.

"I thought it was a legitimate possibility because of how competitive that he is and how important this is to him," said Coach Jones.  "This football game means everything to him.  Anything that he puts his mind to, he usually accomplishes."

"Even from the beginning, I knew that he would play in a bowl game," said Schaffer.  "Knowing Zach, there is no way that they'll keep him off the field.  Nothing will keep him off."

"I miss playing," Collaros told me.  "It's been a hard five weeks just sitting around and watching.  I'm very competitive and I want to be out there.  It's important to me and it's important to help my teammates get a win.  And I don't want my last play to be the play that it was."  

It sounds increasingly likely that it won't be.

I'd love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@bengals.nfl.net

If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

And I'm on Facebook. Just search for Dan Hoard and look for the photo of me with the handsome lad.

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