Tailback hopeful slow to recover

Before he can compete to be UNLV’s starting running back, C.J. Cox has to walk, and that has become a problem.

Cox hurt his left hamstring on Aug. 6, and his comeback attempt hit a snag when he aggravated the injury Wednesday.

“I had to take it easy tonight. I didn’t do anything, basically,” Cox said after Friday’s practice. “It hurts to walk around now.

“I’ve never pulled a muscle in my life, so this is my first rodeo with this hamstring. I might have to back off these next four or five days and let it rest.”

Rebels coach Mike Sanford said Cox suffered “a little setback” this week and his status is questionable for the Sept. 5 season opener against Sacramento State.

“He didn’t tear it or completely pull it, but he had a setback,” Sanford said. “I don’t know what that means yet. Hopefully he can get better and get back in there.”

Cox came into camp with hopes of replacing Frank Summers as UNLV’s primary ball carrier. Cox played in 12 games as a freshman last season, carrying 54 times for 191 yards and one touchdown.

In his absence, 5-foot-8-inch junior Channing Trotter is emerging as the favorite to start the opener. Sanford said Trotter, senior Chris Brogdon and freshman Bradley Randle would be part of a “running back by committee” situation if the season started now.

“Those three have really played well and put themselves in a position to help this team,” Sanford said.

Redshirt freshman Imari Thompson also is in the mix. But if any back is gaining separation, it’s probably Trotter, who has only 21 career carries.

“Channing has had a really good camp so far. He’s showing a lot of improvement from the spring,” quarterback Omar Clayton said.

About 30 minutes into the Rebels’ first practice, Cox was running a route and said he “felt two pops” as he reached out for a pass.

Cox, who had no experience with hamstring injuries, said he tried to return to practice before feeling 100 percent healthy.

“I’m trying to get back out there. But if I can’t walk around, I can’t play football,” Cox said. “It’s so frustrating.”

Cox will sit out UNLV’s scrimmage today, but Sanford said the team has few other injury concerns.

NOTES — The Rebels practiced on campus Friday, following 10 days of camp in Ely. “I’m glad to be back in civilization,” Clayton said. … UNLV’s remaining practices are closed to the public.

Contact reporter Matt Youmans at myoumans@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2907.

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