Tressel says Wells will play against USC

Updated: September 9, 2008, 8:08 PM ET
By Adam Rittenberg | ESPN.com

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said Tuesday that running back Chris "Beanie" Wells will play in Saturday's game against top-ranked USC after missing last week's game with an injury to his right big toe.

How much Wells plays largely depends on his progress in practices Tuesday and Wednesday. Wells will run and go through individual drills Tuesday before participating fully in Wednesday's workout.

"He probably ran better than I thought he might [on Monday]," Tressel said.

Wells has been testing the foot/toe on a stationary bike and in the pool. He's listed as the starter on this week's depth chart ahead of Dan "Boom" Herron, who received the bulk of the carries this past week.

"He said to [offensive coordinator] Jim Bollman and I walking into the meeting room on Monday, he said, 'I'm ready to carry 45 times on Saturday,'" Tressel said. "He's not going to carry it 45 if he's not effective. He wants to play, and he's going to do all he can do."

Wells' teammates are confident the 237-pound junior will be ready for USC.

"Beanie told me he was going to play," defensive end Lawrence Wilson said. "When Beanie says he's going to do something, he does it. He's a tremendous competitor."

Saturday's game will air on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.

"If he steps on the field, he's going to give it his best. And his best is pretty good, you know," offensive tackle Bryant Browning said. "Yesterday I saw him running and he said he felt pretty good. He said he wasn't in much pain at all. He said he would be ready."

Last year, Wells averaged 124 rushing yards on 21 carries per game. Herron (12 carries, 50 yards), Maurice Wells (9 for 48) and Brandon Saine (5 for 15) combined for 113 yards on 26 carries against Ohio, which led 14-6 midway through the third quarter and 14-12 heading into the fourth.

"They ran hard. They combined for a pretty decent total," wide receiver Brian Hartline said. Hartline said their numbers might have been even more impressive except for some listless and out-of-sync play by the rest of the offense.

Wells isn't the only addition to the lineup, either. Starting cornerback Donald Washington and backup Jamario O'Neal both return as well, after serving two-game suspensions for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

They figure to give the Buckeyes a shot of depth and talent in a secondary that has been stretched thin in their absence.

Asked whether Washington would take his accustomed place at field corner, making Chimdi Chekwa, who started the past two games, a backup and nickel back, Tressel grinned.

"Tune in," he said.

Adam Rittenberg covers the Big Ten for ESPN.com. He can be reached at espnritt@gmail.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.