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Ohio State Not Putting Timetable On Jaxon Smith-Njigba’s Return From Hamstring Injury

"I know he’s frustrated, but we’re not as far away as we think."
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Ohio State is expecting junior wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba to return to the field sooner rather than later, but the matter of when is still to be determined as he deals with a lingering hamstring injury that has sidelined him for two of the last three games.

“It’s a long season,” head coach Ryan Day said during his press conference on Tuesday afternoon. “I don’t think we want to move forward until we all feel really good about everything. Jaxon still has a mindset of day-to-day, and we’re not going to put any kind of timetable on it.

“I know he’s frustrated, but we’re not as far away as we think. If he just has the mindset of showing up every day and getting as much treatment as he can and taking care of his body, this will be behind us soon. We’ve still got a lot of football to play.”

Smith-Njigba, who suffered the injury in the first quarter of the season-open victory against Notre Dame, returned to play 23 snaps in the win over Toledo. But the injury flared up again in practice in the lead up to last weekend’s win over Wisconsin, and he was held out of action as a result.

Day was initially hopeful Smith-Njigba would be able to practice this week and play in Saturday’s Homecoming game against Rutgers, but the decisions are ultimately made by Smith-Njigba and the medical staff, which will likely be cautious with him ahead of a game in which the Buckeyes are a 40.5-point favorite.

“He’s struggling. He wants to play,” Day said. “He’s one of the more competitive players I’ve been around, but rarely does it go the way you expect it to go. That’s just life in general. Life’s going to throw adversity our way and we control the response.

“These are great opportunities for us to help them with that down the road. We talk to our team a lot about that. How many guys in that locker room (are going to have) their career, the season play out the way they want? It’s not easy for him, I’m sure, but if he can keep doing that, this will be behind him soon – and he’ll be stronger for it.”

74. Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Of course, Ohio State still has anywhere from eight to 11 games remaining this season, so there’s plenty of time for Smith-Njigba to get healthy and make his impact felt. In the meantime, the trio of junior Julian Fleming and sophomores Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka will continue to carry the torch for the Buckeyes.

“I think we’ve built the offense around those guys now, which is a little bit of a different feel,” Day said. “I think C.J. (Stroud) has embraced that and he’s built some chemistry with those guys over time, and those guys have settled into roles, which has been the silver lining behind not having Jaxon for some of these games.”

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