Malik Knowles' return to the field was a short one. Knowles, arguably Kansas State's top threat in the passing game, sat out last week's game at Oklahoma State with a lower-body injury. He was back on the field for K-State on Saturday, however, as the team had its Big 12 home opener versus Baylor at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
The first three passes Wildcat quarterback Skylar Thompson attempted Saturday were intended for Knowles, who hauled in one for 5 yards. But Knowles once again was slowed by an injury. He went into the team's injury tent during the first quarter before heading to the locker room. He did not return.
Following K-State's 31-12 loss, head coach Chris Klieman said he wasn't sure how long Knowles might be out. But Klieman admired Knowles' resilience.
"Malik tried to go today," Klieman said. "He wasn't able to go after a series or two. I appreciate the young man, because he wanted to play for his brothers, and he couldn't do some things."
Senior receiver Dalton Schoen was equally impressed with Knowles' willingness to play through pain.
"It's tough. I know he so badly wants to be out there playing," said Schoen, who caught six passes for 69 yards, including the Wildcats' lone touchdown. "I can tell it's hurting him. But I love to see him giving it all he has and trying to give it a go out there."
Knowles ranks second on the team in receiving yardage (142), receiving yards per game (35.5) and touchdown catches (two) and third in receptions (10).
"He's banged up. He's hurting," Schoen said. "You guys know that. We all know that. He wants to be out there, and I can tell you if he were able to be, he would be, because he wants to be out there so bad. I know it's killing him not to be out there with his team."
Knowles wasn't the only Wildcat dealing with an injury, though.
Senior running back Jordon Brown wasn't dressed out and did not play. He is battling an undisclosed injury. Klieman said Brown's injury likely will sideline him "a few weeks."
Brown has 25 carries for 166 yards and three touchdowns this fall. He's also caught five passes for 51 yards, both team highs among the Wildcats' running backs.
Fellow graduate transfer (and senior) James Gilbert admitted he felt more pressure Saturday knowing that Brown wasn't available.
"I knew I was going to have to carry a little bit more of the load and play a couple more snaps since he wasn't playing," Gilbert said, "but when an opportunity presents itself, you've got to step up. Me being a veteran player, I feel like it wasn't too much for me to handle."
Gilbert, who finished with 94 rushing yards on 18 carries Saturday, said Brown hasn't let the injury get him down.
"He's on the sideline fully engaged and helping us out, making sure we hit our read spots," Gilbert said. "It's just another set of eyes looking for us out there. He's doing a good job."