Joe Burrow has been in uniform the past two games and participated in warm-ups, but only now does it appear that the quarterback is healthy enough to play.
“Joe has been cleared and is practicing,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said Tuesday on the Big Ten coaches teleconference. “He started practicing last week, but we weren’t comfortable with him (playing against Army).”
Burrow was J.T. Barrett’s backup last year and played well in spot duty. That doesn’t mean the redshirt sophomore would necessarily be the first option after Barrett on Saturday against UNLV. Redshirt freshman Dwayne Haskins Jr. was 4-of-4 passing on Ohio State’s final possession against Army.
“We’ll make that decision as this week progresses,” Meyer said. “It’s still very close. I think both of the quarterbacks can give us the opportunity to move the ball.”
Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson gave a vague answer when asked who might get the first shot, saying Meyer and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day were well-qualified to decide.
“I feel like you really can’t go wrong with either one of them,” receiver Terry McLaurin said. “People don’t really get to see what we see in practice from Joe. If you were to see practice, it’s like he didn’t skip a beat. If you ask the training staff, he came back from a broken hand in record time.”
Meyer said that outside linebacker Dante Booker played sparingly against Army because of a schematic decision to use only two linebackers against the triple-option.
“It was all assignment-based,” Meyer said. “We felt the other guys were more prepared for that.”
Meyer also said that Booker had “a little bit of a sore shoulder,” which factored into the decision.
Receiver Johnnie Dixon didn’t play against Army because of a hamstring issue, Meyer said. He “tugged” it in practice last week, Meyer said, and tried to test it in warm-ups.
Dixon’s career almost ended because of knee issues, but Meyer believes his hamstring is not a serious injury. Still, hamstring injuries tend to linger, as has been the case with running back Mike Weber.
“The word ‘hamstring’ around here is like stepping on hot coals,” Meyer said. “When you hear it, everybody overreacts because you have to. Those are those long-term injuries.”
Middle linebacker Chris Worley, termed questionable by Meyer, had a walking boot on after practice.