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Rutgers starting LB Merrell (kidney) doubtful for Arkansas

By Chip Patterson | Staff Writer

Rutgers staring linebacker Jamal Merrell did not play on Saturday against Eastern Michigan, due to what Kyle Flood said Monday was a kidney issue.

Merrell was not even on the sideline for the Scarlet Knights' victory, and after the game Flood declined to elaborate on the nature of his absence. According to the head coach, Merrell was with the team on Sunday and should be back for the conference opener at SMU on Oct. 5.

"I don't really want to discuss it but it is a kidney situation and Jamal was with us [Sunday] in the meetings, but he is not at this point able to practice," Flood said via NJ.com. "I do expect him back after the bye week."

Merrell has been a regular starter for the Scarlet Knights defense since 2011, finishing third on the team in tackles a year ago. Merrell and his twin brother Jamil, a senior defensive end, are two of the most experienced players on a unit that lost eight starters from 2012.

Arkansas enters High Point Solutions Stadium looking for revenge after suffering a 35-26 home loss to Rutgers a year ago. First-year Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema has brought a physical brand of offense to the Hogs, utilizing a one-two punch of Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins to lead the SEC rushing after three weeks, averaging 294.33 yards per game on a whopping 53.3 attempts per game.

Merrell is not the only injury concern for Rutgers heading into the Arkansas matchup. Starting quarterback Gary Nova has been listed as "probable" for the game, though most indications point towards him suiting up on Saturday.

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