LSU starting right guard Damien Lewis will not practice this week due his injured ankle, Tigers coach Ed Orgeron said, and it's unclear whether Lewis will recover in time to play in the national championship game.
Lewis was carted into the locker room during the first half of LSU's 63-28 Peach Bowl win over Oklahoma. Someone hit his ankle on the side, Orgeron said, and Lewis was seen wearing a walking boot on his right foot and using crutches in the postgame celebration on the field.
The severity of the ankle injury was unclear at the time, but Orgeron said in an interview Tuesday morning that the prognosis is "a little bit more positive than we thought" and Lewis could avoid surgery.
"We felt maybe we would have to do some work on him, but it looks like we won't," Orgeron said in an interview with 104.5 ESPN's "Off the Bench." "Obviously, you have to do a lot of rehab. We'll know more next week. He ain't gonna practice this week. We think we may have him for the game, but we've got to see how far long he gets this week."
In the meantime, Orgeron said LSU will practice with the same lineup the Tigers used when Lewis left the Peach Bowl: starting left guard Adrian Magee will fill in for Lewis, and backup Ed Ingram will play first-team left guard.
"I think that would be the natural deal," Orgeron said. "We haven't talked about it as a staff yet. We've been breaking down Clemson. We're going to meet on Thursday, and (head athletic trainer) Jack (Marucci) will have a more definitive answer for us on whether or not he thinks Damien will be ready for the football game."
Lewis has been one of LSU's best and most consistent linemen. The 6-foot-3, 332-pound senior has started in every game since transferring from Northwest Mississippi Community College before the 2018 season, and he was a key piece in LSU's winning the 2019 Joe Moore Award for best offensive line.
"We know D-Lew's gonna be back," LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry said after the Peach bowl. "He's going to get treatment every day. He'll be fine. Even if he can't go, (offensive line) Coach (James) Cregg will have us prepared."
The LSU offensive line will be bolstered with the return of offensive tackle Dare Rosenthal.
Orgeron said the 6-foot-7, 314-pound redshirt freshman will be eligible to play in the national championship. Rosenthal has not played since he started at left tackle against Mississippi State, while starter Saahdiq Charles missed one of his six games due to what Orgeron called "coaching decisions."
"That gives us more depth at tackle," Orgeron said. "So, if Damien comes back, we're as healthy as we have been on this football team all year."