(STATS) - Eastern Washington football coach Beau Baldwin still calls All-America wide receiver Cooper Kupp's return from a right shoulder injury as a "game-time decision."
It could be uncertainty, it could be a way to leave an opponent wondering, it could be both. But the fourth-ranked Eagles clearly hope the missed games don't mount for the 2015 STATS FCS Offensive Player of the Year, whose shoulder sprain have kept him out a game and a half.
"You're always concerned about that, how quick you bring a guy back, what's that gonna do. That's always something," Eastern coach Beau Baldwin said Wednesday. "We don't have a crystal ball, so it's hard to know for sure. You just have to try to use your best judgment on something like that. Obviously, we defer to the trainers and the doctors and what they say. But sometimes injuries like this are kind of up in the air on when you want to bring someone back. We've just got to get a feel for it. What happens in the end, we can't second-guess it. We just have to go with what we think is right in that particular week and live with that."
The Eagles (2-1) open their Big Sky Conference schedule at Northern Arizona on Saturday. The Lumberjacks (1-2) have beaten Eastern each of the past two seasons when the Eagles were ranked in the national top four.
Kupp, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound senior, has caught a Division I-record 61 touchdowns in his career, is nearing the FCS receiving yards mark with 5,032 and is third in career receptions with 328. This season, he has 17 receptions for 268 yards and five touchdowns in three halves of action.
"Yes, Cooper is our best receiver, we understand that," Baldwin said. "But you take him out, we still fully feel very good about our next two receivers, three receivers, four receivers, five receivers. We feel very good about those guys being able to come in and make plays."
Baldwin also hasn't committed publicly about his starting quarterback for the NAU game. Gage Gubrud started the first three games, but Reilly Hennessey replaced him during the third quarter against Northern Iowa last Saturday and led the Eagles from a 24-14 deficit to a 34-30 victory.