SEATTLE — Erik Kohler only had one question: “Why?”
Why was there a sudden pain in his knee?
Why did this have to happen on the first day of fall camp?
Why was his kneecap seemingly missing?
The junior offensive linemen was barely an hour into the first practice of fall camp when his cleat caught on the turf, he took a hit from a defensive linemen and went down awkwardly, causing his knee to buckle.
He let out a scream that could be heard all around the East Practice Field.
But any pain was replaced by the shock of looking at where his kneecap was supposed to be, and seeing that it had forcibly moved to the right of it’s normal location.
“It was sitting on the side of my knee,” he said.
At that point, Kohler knew something was very wrong. But he didn’t panic.
“It was interesting more than anything,” he said. “It’s just a weird, weird sensation seeing your knee cap on the other side of your leg. It was kind of scary your knee cap isn’t supposed to be there.”
Husky trainers popped the knee back in. And assured Kohler it would be only a two-to-three week recovery.
Still, for a guy that has battled injuries his entire career, this wasn’t something he wanted to deal with again.
“It was just like, ‘Why?’” he said. “I knew I could fight through it. I knew I would be back.”
Kohler did treatment five times a day, and called the injury a “speed bump.”
Now, he’s back. On Tuesday and Wednesday, he participated in full contact 11-on-11 drills for the first time. He was back on the line, battling and hitting and moving with ease.
“It felt amazing to hit somebody,” Kohler said. “I missed it so much.”
Where Kohler fits in with the offensive line isn’t exactly certain. The first-team unit of Micah Hatchi (left tackle), Colin Tanigawa (left guard), Drew Schafer (center), James Atoe (right guard) and Ben Riva (right tackle) has worked together in Kohler’s two-week absence.
In his return to the field, Kohler has taken snaps at center and right guard with the first team offense. Last season he started every game at right tackle. Head coach Steve Sarkisian believes that Kohler could, and likely will, see time at all three positions.
“He’s going to move around quite a bit,” Sarkisian said. “We are going to need all of those guys.”
Kohler prefers to play guard, but he is content with whatever they tell him to do.
“I’m versatile,” he said. “I believe wherever they put me I will be fine. The coaches are telling me to get reps.”
Linebacker Evan Zeger was in a yellow no-contact jersey with a stiff neck. … Safety Will Shamburger took first team reps with the No. 1 defense, while senior Justin Glenn stayed on the second-team defense. … Kicker Travis Coons was back and kicking at practice. He made 4-of-5 attempts. Cornerback Desmond Trufant was in uniform, but got the afternoon off from team drills. True freshman Brandon Beaver got reps in his place on a few series. … Today’s Friday’s and Saturday’s practices will be closed to the media. Sarkisian said the team will do a mock game scenario complete with the bus trip to CenturyLink field on Friday before the Raise the Woof celebration.