COLLEGE PARK - Injury woes continue to mount for the Maryland football team, which learned yesterday that senior Lamar Bryant, a two-year starter at right guard who earned all-conference honors in 2002, would miss the next six weeks with a broken bone in his left foot.
The Terps also lost outside linebacker Shawne Merriman, who suffered a partial tear of the cartilage in his left knee. Merriman, a sophomore expected to challenge Jamahl Cochran for a starting spot, had surgery scheduled for yesterday and will be out at least a week.
Bryant, an emotional leader and one of the strongest players on the team, suffered his injury Wednesday afternoon during a 3-on-3 drill.
"He just planted his foot wrong," said Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen. "I think he thought he rolled his ankle. It's tough because he's a player who works so hard, and he really solidified our offensive line last season. We've got to find someone to step in and help us win these early games."
That burden will likely fall on either fifth-year senior Ed Tyler or sophomore Akil Patterson, both of whom have seen limited game action at Maryland.
"We were pretty hurt for a while [after Bryant's injury]," Tyler said. "He's one of our best friends. We all hang out together all the time. ... He'll be back. He's pretty tough."
Tyler, whom offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe said is in "the best shape of his life," spent yesterday's practice taking reps with the first team and will have the early edge, though Friedgen said he would entertain a number of ideas, including shifting starting center Kyle Schmitt to guard and putting Tyler at center.
"Lamar is great, but I feel like I can come in and do the job," Tyler said. "I've been waiting for five years [to play]. I'm a senior, I've worked hard. I told the coach I wanted to play and it didn't matter what role it was."
Bryant's injury was just the latest in a series of setbacks for the Terps' offense, which lost starting tailback Bruce Perry (ankle sprain) and starting wide-out Steve Suter (hamstring) earlier this week.
"That's something you just have to deal with in a physical game like football," said Taaffe, whose offense set a school record in 2002 with 451 points. "It happens to every team in different degrees. It's a shame. I know Lamar is bummed out right now."
Maryland will keep its fingers crossed on Merriman, a player with tremendous potential who was third on the team with five sacks in 2002 as a true freshman.
"I know that Shawne's mentality is going to be to get back as fast as he can," said outside linebackers coach Al Seamonson. "He's an important part of our defense. We've got big plans for him."
* NOTES: Nose tackle C.J. Feldheim, who had surgery to repair a torn meniscus last week, was back practicing yesterday. "I've been working my butt off," he said. "A couple more days and I'll be back to full speed." ... Friedgen said quarterback Orlando Evans continues to look like the likely back up to starter Scott McBrien. Evans tossed a 90-yard touchdown to Danny Melendez during yesterday's controlled scrimmage.