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News and notes from Monday's Illini football practice, courtesy columnist Loren Tate:
– Status of Mikel Leshoure and Ashante Williams.
"Mikel and Ashante are out here working with us," said coach Ron Zook. "There is no decision yet on whether they'll play at Ohio State. We'll probably decide later this week."
Both players were suspended Saturday for breaking team rules. Zook said linebacker Martez Wilson wore a red jersey, avoiding contact while his sore neck improves. Wilson missed the Illinois State game but is expected to play at Ohio State.
– Juice Williams returning.
"I stretched it out and participated in drills, but I didn't run full speed," said the UI quarterback. "I felt the (high thigh) muscle pull around the 10-yard line (on his 49-yard run) and I stumbled and fell on the one. It surprised me. I didn't want to come up short like I did at Michigan last year, but it's just one of those things that happen. I'll be fine in a couple of days. I'll definitely be ready for Ohio State."
– Benn looking for action.
UI All-American candidate Arrelious Benn participated in 55 of 73 offensive plays Saturday and, for the first time, didn't catch a pass.
"We called a lot of plays for him," said receivers coach Jim Pry, "but the defense took him away. On the option, Illinois State made the quarterback pull it back and run (rather than pitch to Benn). The one ball that he caught was disallowed because of a penalty. We only threw 17 times."
Explaining further, Pry said: "We intended to play Cordale Scott and Chris James more, but they were behind Chris Duvalt and he was doing a terrific job blocking on the perimeter. It was important for our running game to block those corners. That was one of our improved areas. And our receivers had no drops."
– Terry Hawthorne stays at corner.
Thought was given to switching the East St. Louis star to safety, but he remained at cornerback where he entered for just three defensive plays Saturday. He was also on punt return and kickoff teams. Hawthorne expects to return to receiver at some point in the future, saying the move to defense wouldn't have happened if he hadn't been handicapped this summer by a lengthy hand injury (and if Miami Thomas hadn't been injured).