Brandon Harris heard Christian LaCouture's first words.
LSU's quarterback sat near LaCouture when doctors told the defensive end the news: You've torn your ACL and are out for the season.
"He still kept a smile on his face and said — these were his words — ‘Everything happens for a reason. God’s going to push him through it,' " Harris said during an interview with reporters Wednesday night.
LaCouture was the first — but not the last.
Corey Thompson fractured his lower leg at practice Wednesday and is expected to miss some early-season game action — the third member of LSU's front seven defense to suffer an injury during the first week of preseason camp.
LaCouture and end/outside linebacker Isaiah Washington were lost for the season after suffering serious ligament damage in their knees during Sunday's practice. Thompson's injury is not season-ending, but his recovery is expected to span more than a month.
When LSU opens the season against Wisconsin, new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda will be without two presumed starters, both seniors (LaCouture and Thompson) and a backup in Washington.
"You’re going to have people nicked up," defensive end Lewis Neal said. "But you just keep pushing and get ready for the season."
The latest injury is to a guy fighting for playing time at LSU's F-linebacker, most similar to a strong-side linebacker in a 4-3. The F-linebacker is responsible for playing the run and the pass. Thompson said earlier this week that he’s splitting his time 50-50 between run support and pass coverage.
Safety Rickey Jefferson called Thompson's injury a "freak accident" and said that his leg got "rolled up," according to an interview with Scout.com's Tiger Blitz.
A positive for the Tigers: the F-linebacker position isn't always on the field. The position normally exits for an extra defensive back in multi-defensive-back sets, like nickel or dime.
Tashawn Bower, a senior, was competing with Thompson for time at F-linebacker. Bower missed at least the first four days of camp with an unspecified injury, and he is needed at several other spots. He plays behind Arden Key at Buck, an outside linebacker/end hybrid that Washington played. He also plays defensive end at times, especially in pass-rush packages.
A pair of freshmen could see significant time with Thompson out: Michael Divinity, a midyear enrollee expected to see the field, and Ray Thornton, a rookie from Texas.
The same goes for a defensive line that lost a player with 23 starts. LaCouture started as a sophomore and junior last season.
"We still have to keep pushing and achieve our goal. We can still do this thing for him. He’s still part of the team," Neal said. "All he can do is stay prayed up and keep pushing. It’s not over. I know it’s harsh because it’s his last year, but he can still make things happen and help us in other areas."
LaCouture confirmed his injury in a tweet late Tuesday night, writing, "I plan to attack this injury head on and I will help and support this team from the sideline and watch them achieve greatness."
He leaves a hole, though.
Davon Godchaux has moved from nose tackle to replace LaCouture at end, and Greg Gilmore, for now, is practicing with the No. 1 group at nose, Neal said. Travonte Valentine, listed on LSU's roster at 356 pounds, is expected to play nose tackle as well. The top-ranked junior-college defensive tackle in 2016, Valentine participated in his first practice Wednesday afternoon after rejoining the team on Monday.
"I’m expecting him to disrupt the middle, be a big body," Neal said of Valentine, dismissed from the team last summer. "That’s what you need."
Freshmen Rashard Lawrence and Ed Alexander could see the field quicker in LaCouture's absence, too. Lawrence is playing both nose tackle and end. Alexander is playing nose tackle with a group that includes Valentine and Gilmore.
"The leadership has to be there just because we’ve got a lot of young guys we’ve got to lead into the right direction that we know have to play this year," Neal said. "We just keep teaching them the right technique. You can’t just play off talent. We’re teaching them everything they need to know so they can be ready to play on the field when Saturday comes."
— Chandler Rome contributed to this report.