A year ago, Greg Henderson was one of the most durable players on the Colorado defense.
The sophomore cornerback already faces the prospect of missing a game this year, but his backup is ready to fill in.
"I'm ready right now," true freshman Yuri Wright said. "I was ready a week ago, so I'm ready right now to step in if I have to."
Henderson sprained his right ankle during Saturday's 22-17 loss to Colorado State. On Monday, head coach Jon Embree said Henderson is "questionable" for Saturday's home opener against Sacramento State.
Should Henderson be sidelined, the highly touted Wright will get the start.
"It's something I've been looking forward to for a long time now," he said of his first start.
During fall camp, another top-notch freshman corner, Kenneth Crawley, earned a starting job, leaving Wright as a second-stringer. That motivated Wright, he said.
"It definitely showed me that I need to work a lot harder," he said. "He's a good player and I have to give him that. Hopefully I just keep working and get better and one day I'll be the starter."
Embree said Wright has shown good things in practice, thanks in part Crawley and Henderson, who started 12 of 13 games a year ago.
"Yuri has done well," Embree said. "It's been good for him to be in this environment. He's seen what Crawley is doing, he's seeing how Greg works and prepares. Our (veteran) guys in the back end really take it serious. It's been good for him to see how you have to do it and he's picked up on those good habits."
Wright -- and Crawley -- could get tested a lot against Sacramento State. Hornets quarterback Garrett Safron threw for 308 yards and two touchdowns in a 49-19 loss to New Mexico State, although the Hornets spent most of the game trailing. A year ago, they averaged 176 yards through the air.
Regardless of how much Sacramento State throws it, Wright is hoping the nerves of playing in college are gone.
"I was comfortable (against CSU)," he said. "It felt good to be back there. I had the nerves at first, but those went away as soon as the first play was over. It felt good to be out there."
Polk to sit
Safety Ray Polk suffered a high ankle sprain during the first half against CSU and Embree ruled him out for Saturday's game. A high ankle sprain is often troublesome and could take several weeks to heal.
"You can't really gauge it," Polk said Monday, as he wore a walking boot on his left leg. "That's why we have to go day by day. The more rehab I can get right now the better off I'll be, in my opinion. I'm just staying in the training room as much as possible and trying to get this thing better."
A senior, Polk has missed only three games during his career, including two last year with a concussion.
"I can't afford to miss these games, on a personal level as well as I want to help out the team," he said.
Adding insult to injury, Polk said he has received "some nasty Tweets from Ram fans."
"Just little classless cowards sitting behind their computer," he said. "It happens. It's unfortunate."
Parker Orms is set to start in Polk's place.
"It means I've got to step up and be a starter now," Orms said. "It sucks seeing Ray go down. He worked so hard being a leader of the DBs and the defense and the whole team. I just feel bad for him that he has to miss out at all."
Orms went into the season as the starting nickelback. True freshman Marques Mosley will take over Orms' spot, Embree said. Mosley and Orms both played a lot against CSU. Orms had four tackles and Mosley forced a fumble.
"We still have some guys back there that we feel good about," Embree said.
Webb doing well
Quarterback Jordan Webb was hobbled by a sore hip during the second half of the CSU game. On Monday, Embree said, "He's going to have some soreness in his hip and all of that, but he was fine."
Embree said he thought about turning to backup Connor Wood during the game, but didn't want to throw Wood into a pressure situation for his first collegiate snaps.
"That's why I decided that as long as Jordan could go and do some stuff to keep him in there," Embree said.
When asked if Wood would remain the No. 2 quarterback this week, Embree said, "Yeah, I think so." ... CU is 11-5 all-time against current Big Sky Conference teams, although just 1-1 since 1934 (lost to Montana State in 2006, beat Eastern Washington in 2008). ... CU has never faced Sacramento State. ... The Hornets are 1-3 all-time against the Pac-12, but that win came a year ago at Oregon State.
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