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>>Illini Need Young Receivers To Step Up

Something has been missing from Illinois' passing game the past two weeks.

With injuries that have so far kept starters Mike Dudek and Justin Hardee of the field this fall sophomores Malik Turner and Marchie Murdock and freshmen Sam Mays and Desmond Cain are playing a lot.

 width=That lack of experience has meant disconnect between receivers and quarterback Wes Lunt.

Illinois (3-1) won in spite of those problems last weekend against Middle Tennessee. But Saturday Nebraska (2-2) comes to Champaign to open Big Ten play.

One plus for Illinois is the Cornhuskers' pass defense. It is ranked last in the Big Ten.

>>Nebraska Expecting All-American WR Back

De'Mornay Pierson-El might be able to play in a limited role when Nebraska opens Big Ten play at Illinois on Saturday.

Pierson-El has been out since mid-August with a broken right foot. Coach Mike Riley said the dynamic punt returner and receiver is returning to practice this week. How much he plays this week, if any, depends on how he progresses in workouts.

Riley says it's "50-50" that linebacker Josh Banderas (groin) and defensive linemen Vincent Valentine (ankle) and Jack Gangwish (elbow) would play against the Illini.

Marcus Newby, who started in place of Rose-Ivey, also is questionable after leaving the Southern Miss game in the second half with a groin injury.

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