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Northwestern releases Week 1 injury report: Watkins, Fessler out

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Northwestern will be without its talented cornerback against Nevada.

NCAA Football: Outback Bowl-Northwestern vs Tennessee Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern’s Week 1 injury report was unceremoniously released today. Keith Watkins was carted off the field in practice yesterday, and there’s not much of an update other than his status is officially OUT for Saturday.

Here are all the announced injuries of those listed on the Week 1 depth chart and their implications.

WR Charlie Fessler - Out

CB Keith Watkins II - Out

S Travis Whillock - Out

Once again, injuries leave Northwestern’s secondary incredibly thin. When Watkins was sidelined all of last season with a torn ACL, Trae Williams stepped up nicely and started opposite Montre Hartage. However, this time, Northwestern will likely be turning to Marcus McShepar with Brian Bullock providing depth. Like last year when Northwestern’s secondary was decimated, safety Godwin Igwebuike should slide down to the slot, essentially the nickel position, with safety Jared McGee playing alongside Kyle Queiro.

Williams, who is still recovering from Achilles surgery, should be good to go early in Big Ten play. He’s been participating in non-contact, conditioning drills in training camp and was running and cutting in practice this week. Parrker Westphal, Roderick Campbell and Alonzo Mayo were not on the two-deep and are questionable to play against Nevada. To clarify, the program has not ruled them out but based on what we’ve seen in practice, it would be surprising to see them play. This is also problematic as Campbell saw plenty of action as the season progressed last season. Safety Travis Whillock is also out for Saturday. It was somewhat of a surprise to see Whillock on the two-deep on Monday. While he had been participating in non-contact drills for all of training camp, he will be sidelined on Saturday.

The details of Charlie Fessler’s injury are unknown, but redshirt freshman Riley Lees likely takes his place on the two-deep. Fessler had been practicing all of training camp so this injury is fairly recent. The chances of a true freshman wideout playing Saturday have significantly increased.

We know that Jake Saunders and Solomon Vault won’t appear on the weekly injury report. Vault is out for the season after undergoing hip surgery and Saunders had surgery after suffering an injury in Kenosha.