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DeLuca suffers knee injury, questionable for Bison game

North Dakota State senior linebacker Nick DeLuca suffered a knee injury this week and may miss Saturday's game at Eastern Washington.

CHENEY, Wash. -- North Dakota State linebacker Nick DeLuca suffered a knee injury in practice this week and is listed as questionable for Saturday’s clash of FCS Division I heavyweights with Eastern Washington, according to NDSU athletic department spokesman Ryan Perreault. DeLuca’s status is still being evaluated, he said, but the injury did not involve the anterior cruciate ligament.

It’s the second straight year the Bison star has been hurt. He suffered a shoulder injury in last year’s season opener, an ailment he played with the next two games with but was ultimately shelved for the season after the much-heralded win over the University of Iowa.

The 6-foot-3, 248-pound DeLuca is a bona fide NFL prospect who could be an upper-round draft choice. He took a medical hardship and returned this fall.

It’s another blow to the Bison defense that could use all hands on deck against Eastern Washington, a traditionally explosive offensive team that uses numerous wide receiver sets. The absence of DeLuca, the team’s best linebacker pass defender, will test NDSU’s depth at the position.

Senior Matt Plank is listed as the starting middle linebacker, but the Bison will probably turn to either juniors Dan Marlette and Levi Jordheim and freshman Jabril Cox for more playing time. NDSU was probably set to play five defensive backs anyway considering the nature of the Eagles’ offense.