The news broke around lunch yesterday that LSU's senior safety Jalen Mills would be sidelined for some time with a lower leg injury of some sort. The Advocate was able to discern the following details:
Starting safety Jalen Mills suffered an injury to his ankle during the morning session of practice Wednesday, sidelining him for at least the first two games of the year, his mother told The Advocate.
It thrusts Jefferson into a starting role while sending Mills to the bench — a rarity. Mills has played all 39 games of his LSU career.
The extent of Mills' injury isn't known, but Kisa Mills said her son won't need surgery and classified the injury as a "sprain." It will sideline him for the season opener Sept. 5 against McNeese State and the game at Mississippi State the next week.
"He will be OK," Kisa Mills said in a message Wednesday.
An X-ray result to Mills' ankle on Wednesday night returned positive results, a source said. The hope is for Mills to return by the third game of the season, LSU's highly anticipated showdown in Tiger Stadium against Auburn, a source said.
So the good news for the moment is that the worst case scenario, at least for now, appears to have been avoided. Still, it's a tough pill to swallow for Mills, who came back for his senior season and will now miss the first time of his career after starting, literally, every game to date.
However, safety is definitely one of the positions where LSU has depth to spare. Rickey Jefferson has starting experience and he's the most likely slide-in to replace Mills next to Jamal Adams. Likewise, Dwayne Thomas probably takes over at the nickel corner spot as well, although there was a quote somewhere about Mills working with Donte Jackson on blitzing from that position as well. Corey Thompson is a dark horse as well. He's reportedly had a fantastic camp and is finally healthy after a bad knee injury back in 2013.
But it's definitely less than ideal. Mills was the most experienced member of this secondary and a leader, who threw himself into Kevin Steele's playbook and had talked about being especially thirsty to unleash that new knowledge. The thought of having him out against Auburn, a team that loves to play hell on a defense's assignments with a lot of fakes and misdirection. The staff will also want to avoid bringing Mills back too quickly, as minor ankle injuries like sprains (such as The Dreaded High Ankle Sprain™) can really linger. In fact, if Mills isn't back by the Auburn game, I would imagine LSU will hold him out of Syracuse and Eastern Michigan as well in order to make sure he's 100 percent for the SEC stretch run in October/November.