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Pitt's Donald may sit Saturday with knee injury

| Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012, 4:36 p.m.
Pitt running back Ray Graham beats Virginia Tech's Detrick Bonner to the endzone for a first quarter at Heinz Field Sept. 15, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
Pitt running back Rushel Shell runs over Virginia Tech's Detrick Bonner during the third quarter Sept. 15, 2012, at Heinz Field.
Christopher Horner
Pitt running back Isaac Bennett carries for a long gain during the Blue-Gold spring game Saturday April 14, 2012 at Martorelli Stadium in Ross. Bennett missed his ninth consecutive day of practice with a knee injury Monday, but he switched to a less restrictive brace that he wore while watching practice.

Defensive tackle Aaron Donald, the anchor of Pitt's line, may not play Saturday against Gardner-Webb because of a knee injury.

“Don't feel great about it,” coach Paul Chryst said, “but not totally ruled out.” Chryst said the injury is not expected to lead to a long-term absence for Donald, who was a second-team All-Big East selection last season.

“You do feel encouraged (for the future),” Chryst said. “It's not anything that has a long-term effect. It's just one of those things. I don't know if he will be able to go this Saturday, but certainly we feel really good about after that.” Donald has recorded eight tackles this season, two for a loss, and five quarterback hurries.

In other Pitt injury news, tight end Hubie Graham, who did not play last week against Virginia Tech because of a clavicle injury, is questionable. “He has done very little (in practice),” Chryst said.

Backup defensive end Jack Lippert also has been dealing with an undisclosed injury that probably will keep him out of the Gardner-Webb game.

The good news is that linebacker Todd Thomas, a 2011 starter who had knee surgery in January, might get his first snaps of the season Saturday.

“I don't want to say it's like sending a pitcher down to Triple-A to throw, but you have to get some live work,” Chryst said. “We have to see where Todd is at.”

Thomas has been practicing for the past week and has been encouraged by his progress.

“(He) felt better after each day,” Chryst said. “Todd was able to do a lot more (Wednesday) than he did a week ago, and Tuesday he did a fair amount.”

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jdipaola@tribweb.com or 412-320-7997.

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