After missing last Saturday’s Top-25 clash with Texas because of a lingering back issue that kept him out, Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels did not practice Monday and a timeline for his return is unknown.
Speaking at his weekly press conference ahead of this week’s home game against UCF (3 p.m. Saturday on FOX), KU coach Lance Leipold said Daniels was “still working with the training staff and doctors” in hopes of returning to action.
The fact that no one seems to know when that return might come has created a certain amount of concern throughout the football facility.
“Of course when your starting quarterback wasn't available — and he’s not practice on the first day of prep — it’s concerning,” Leipold said. “But I view it as a day-to-day situation right now according to our training. Staff, and we'll see where that goes.”
The wait-and-see approach, though slow, seems to be the only one the Jayhawks can take with Daniels at the moment. After missing the season opener and parts of preseason camp because of what was deemed to be “back tightness,” Daniels returned to lead the Jayhawks to wins in the next three games and was in line to start at Texas last weekend all the way up to the morning of kickoff.
But the team learned during the pregame that Daniels’ back was bothering him and, despite exhausting all efforts to get him ready to play, he was unable to suit up.
Leipold was asked on Monday if “back tightness” was still an accurate way to describe Daniels’ injury.
“I’m not a doctor,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s (it), but, yeah, if you want to go with that right now that’d be probably as good as any (way to describe it).”
The coach and QB have remained in communication about his status, with Leipold saying Monday, “He and I had multiple conversations yesterday and today already. And (we have to) see where it takes us.”
Asked specifically if the team had considered shutting Daniels down altogether for a period of time to let his back fully heal, Leipold said simply, “No. No. Not at all. That’s never been brought up.”
So, now the Jayhawks move forward with veteran backup Jason Bean preparing to play if Daniels cannot. It’s a position Bean is both familiar with and comfortable in, even if, as Leipold said Monday, the senior second-string QB was “not happy with the way he played, you know. So, he gets a chance to get more reps and give him some work and prepare for whatever happens.”
While a full month has passed since the end of preseason camp, the Jayhawks’ top option after Bean on the depth chart is likely freshman Cole Ballard, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound athlete who drew praise throughout camp for the way he played, approached and thought the game.
Ballard is the son of Indianapolis Colts GM Chris Ballard. With Daniels out and Bean starting in Week 1, Ballard appeared late in the season-opening win over Missouri State. He did not throw a pass or record any statistics.
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