Quick hits from Nebraska’s Monday practice, in which the Huskers continued preparation for Northwestern:
>> Rex Burkhead practiced and expects to be available for Saturday’s game. He said he reinjured his left knee on a third quarter run vs. Ohio State, but the rehab this week has been easier than it was originally.
Earlier Monday, coach Bo Pelini said Burkhead will play plenty if he’s “hitting on all cylinders.” If he isn’t, Ameer Abdullah and Braylon Heard have combined for 740 yards in six games.
>> Tim Beck said senior wide receiver Tim Marlowe — returning this week from a broken collarbone — will play as much as he can Saturday. Marlowe and sophomore Jamal Turner play the same slot receiver spot.
>> Sophomore wide receiver Kenny Bell, Jr — who leads the team with 463 receiving yards — said he’d like to post Nebraska’s first 1,000-yard season as a receiver. For a guy with that goal, he wasn’t sure, until a reporter told him, just how many yards he had.
>> Bell and other players said NU held a players-only meeting last week to clear the air and get on the same page.
“There comes a point where the men of the team need to come together and say: ‘This is how things need to be done,’” Bell said. “When you hear a coach say it every day for 10, 11, 12 months, it just starts to become noise sometimes. So it’s hard to focus on what they’re trying to say.
“But when your fellow teammate, a guy that does it all with you, steps up in front of you and says ‘This is what I’m saying’ and ‘This is what needs to get done.” – not that we don’t respect our coaches are saying, but you respect that guy a lot.”
>> Bell said wide receivers have only three drops this year, down considerably from last year. The wide receivers are now focused on getting the little details perfected to have an even better second half.
>> Linebackers coach Ross Els said Nebraska’s not going to try out new defensive players until they earn the job in practice. Obvious, yes, but some of the Huskers’ starters have struggled to play well on the field.
“There are some positions right now where we don’t have the depth that we need,” Els said. “Some positions we do.”
>> Beck is impressed with Northwestern’s defensive scheme and playing style. Heck, all of Nebraska’s players and coaches are impressed by the job coach Pat Fitzgerald is doing in Evanston. The praise for the 6-1 Wildcats was effusive — and authentic. Northwestern earned that respect in a 28-25 win over the Huskers last year in which the Wildcats controlled the game for the final three quarters. Beck’s comments accurately sum it up.
“Sometimes it’s the size of the fight in the dog, right?” Beck said. “Those guys are tough kids, they play extremely hard. (Fitzgerald) has got them believing in themselves and their system. That’s more important to me than how much they weight and how tall they are. They love playing the game of football.”