Kentucky will be without two outside linebackers for the rest of the season with Mark Stoops announcing that both De’Niro Laster and Kobie Walker will have surgery.
Laster, who is battling an injured knee, and Walker, who hurt his shoulder, are both expected to be back for spring practice when it starts in March.
Laster had played in five games this season, tallying 14 tackles, including two for a loss and one sack. The Minnesota transfer had practiced at both the inside and outside linebacker spots and was an important special teams player.
Walker, who has had a series of setbacks and injuries during his time at Kentucky, had played in three games, starting two this season. He had 10 tackles.
Stoops previously had said that Laster and Walker were expected to miss significant time after being injured and some contingency plans already were put in place during the bye week.
“It was really important to get the extra week,” Stoops said after Thursday’s practice, mentioning that Kengera Daniel and Jordan Bonner both got important reps at those spots. “That worked out good for us, building some depth in that area.”
All of the aforementioned players were backups for outside linebackers Denzil Ware and Josh Allen, who have been bright spots for the Kentucky defense in the past few games.
“They’ve really done a nice job,” Stoops said. “They play hard. In the four down, when they put their hand down, they’re doing a good job of getting after the quarterback. When we’re in our base front they’ve done a really good job.
“And of course inside we’ve been solid as well. Those guys, the more experienced they get the better they’re playing. You can say that about the whole unit really. The more we’re playing, the more reps we get, the more we’re coming together.”