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Watch now: Illinois State defensive lineman Jason Lewan ready to return from injury

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NORMAL — Jason Lewan’s timetable seemed optimistic.

Yet there he was Tuesday morning, practicing with Illinois State’s defense and without limitations.

“It feels good to be back running around,” said Lewan, who suffered a Lisfranc injury to his left foot on March 6 against Northern Iowa. “I always had this in mind. I’ve been working every day to get back to it.”

ISU’s most experienced defensive player, Lewan won’t start but he will see his first playing time of the season Saturday as the Redbirds play at Eastern Illinois in a 6 p.m. start.

“We expect him to play. We’ll probably pitch count him, but I don’t know what that number is,” said ISU coach Brock Spack of Lewan’s snaps. “He seems to be doing really fine. He’s not real sore. Keep moving forward. We’ll see how many reps he gets. It will depend on how he plays and how he feels.”

It was originally feared the injury would cost Lewan the entire fall season.

“It feels good,” he said. “It’s all about communicating how I’m feeling to the trainers. They have been really good with dealing with the pain and bumps and bruises that come with recovering from this injury.”

The 6-foot-6, 305-pound Lewan had 33 tackles and three sacks on ISU’s 2019 FCS playoff quarterfinal team.

Asche doubtful

Spack said Tuesday offensive tackle Peyton Asche is doubtful for the Eastern game after suffering a knee injury in last week’s loss at Western Michigan.

“We’ll make a decision by the end of the week,” Spack said. “We might have more (information) after the weekend.”

Junior Kirby Peine and true freshman Hunter Zambrano both saw action in place of Asche in ISU’s 28-0 loss. Zambrano was working with the first team in Tuesday’s practice.

“We like Zambrano a lot. We’ll move Cole (Anderson) to right tackle. He can play right or left, he doesn’t really care,” said Spack. “Zambrano likes playing left tackle. He’s very comfortable there.”

The 6-5, 300-pound Zambrano is from Weston, Fla.

“He’s already a 300-pound guy and he moves very well,” said the ISU coach. “He’s got a little edge to him. He’s tough and pretty physical. We’ve got to get him live snaps. He got a bunch on Saturday against good players and he held up pretty good.”

History awaits

If ISU wins Saturday against 0-3 Eastern in the Mid-America Classic, Spack will set the school record for career coaching victories.

In his 13th season with the Redbirds, Spack is 86-54. He shares the record with Edwin Struck, who was 86-78-14 from 1945-64.

Contact Randy Reinhardt at (309) 820-3403. Follow him on Twitter: pg_reinhardt


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