The health of three key players for Kansas State was a popular topic during head coach Chris Klieman's weekly press conference Tuesday.
Senior defensive back AJ Parker didn't travel with the team last week, when it lost 37-10 at West Virginia. Parker injured his ankle in the second quarter of K-State's 55-14 win over Kansas on Oct. 24.
"AJ practiced limited (Monday)," Klieman said, "so it was good to see him out there."
Tight end Briley Moore, who leads the team in receptions (19) this fall, injured his back in the second quarter of last week's loss. He did not return for the second half. Klieman said Moore didn't participate in Monday's practice.
"He’s doing all of his treatments," Klieman said. "I know he’s starting to feel a little bit better. Hopefully we’ll have more of an idea on Wednesday or Thursday with (him and Parker).”
With Moore temporarily sidelined, Sammy Wheeler and Nick Lenners have split the first-team reps at tight end. If Moore isn't cleared to practice as the week goes on, Klieman said a few others could see time at the spot, including Jax Dineen and Mason Barta — both normally line up at fullback, though K-State's coaching staff repeatedly has stated the position is interchangeable with tight end in their offense — and redshirt freshman Konner Fox.
"We have a number of guys there, but Briley is a pretty special talent," Klieman said. "We knew he was probably going to be out Sunday and Monday. We were hoping to get him back potentially Tuesday. Obviously, Tuesday is off so now we need to look and see where we’re at on Wednesday. I know that he is progressing.”
Klieman also clarified that freshman running back Deuce Vaughn wasn't hobbled by an injury last week. Vaughn, tops on the team in rushing and receiving yards, wasn't his electric self against the Mountaineers. He finished with just 23 total yards (22 rushing on nine carries, 1 receiving on two catches). Klieman said Vaughn "didn't practice a bunch last week" because of an undisclosed issue.
By game time, however, Vaughn was good to go.
His lack of success wasn't a reflection on him.
Instead, as Klieman often has done since the 27-point defeat, he praised West Virginia's defense.
"As talented as that young man is, you have to find ways to take him away. West Virginia did that," Klieman said. "We thought we had some creative ways to get him the football, but we didn’t have time to throw it or whatever else. So once again, give West Virginia the credit they deserve.”