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University of Colorado Boulder Cornerback Nigel Bethel (No. 27) during practice on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

Sophomore cornerback Nigel Bethel Jr. has played a significant role for the Colorado Buffaloes this season, but they will be without him for the foreseeable future.

Bethel injured a knee during Saturday’s 34-0 win against Arizona and head coach Karl Dorrell said on Monday that Bethel “will be down for a while.”

Dorrell didn’t go into specifics on the nature of Bethel’s injury, but said, “Nigel had his MRI today. He’s getting his knee examined. Right now it doesn’t look so good. … Just from the diagnosis from what the doctors did on site, it could be a very challenging injury. It’s unfortunate.”

Although Mekhi Blackmon and Christian Gonzalez have been the top two corners for the Buffs (2-4, 1-2 Pac-12) this season, Bethel has filled the important role of being the third corner. He’s played 151 snaps, with nine tackles and three pass breakups.

Last week, CU cornerbacks coach Demetrice Martin said Bethel has taken a major step forward this year with a new level of confidence. Martin said Bethel is one of the quietest corners he’s coached, but added, “He understands the defense; now he understands the technique and it’s showing.”

For now, the Buffs will lean more heavily on their trio of true freshmen corners: Tyrin Taylor, Nikko Reed and Kaylin Moore.

Clayton out

Dorrell said second-year freshman running back Ashaad Clayton was not in uniform for the Arizona game because “he went through a minor procedure.”

Dorrell did not elaborate, but said Clayton “won’t be back playing for at least another week or two.”

Clayton has 20 carries for 84 yards and a touchdown this season.

Shenault still out

Receiver La’Vontae Shenault is still on suspension and Dorrell said, “As of today it’s one more game.”

That means Shenault won’t play Saturday at California (1-5, 0-3) but could return for the Buffs’ Oct. 30 game at Oregon. He has missed the last five games.

“He’s practicing and doing a great job in giving a great look for defense and we’re giving him some of the stuff that we’re doing offensively to kind of get him ready when his reinstatement does come in play just to kind of make the transition smoother for him,” Dorrell said. “Believe me, he wants to play and he wants to help and we all want all of our great players playing. But, he understood he made a mistake and he’s going to deal with it just like he’s been doing and he’ll be ready to go when that time comes.”

One of the Buffs’ top receivers, Shenault caught two passes for 23 yards in the season opener against Northern Colorado.

Woods honored

CU freshman safety Trevor Woods was named the Pac-12 special teams player of the week on Monday.

During the Buffs’ win against Arizona, Woods blocked a punt and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown. That gave the Buffs a 13-0 lead and sparked a scoring surge to close the game.

Woods is the first Buff to earn special teams player of the week honors since 2019 when kicker Evan Price and punter Alex Kinney were each honored once.

Other Pac-12 weekly awards went to Utah’s Cameron Rising (offense), Devin Lloyd (defense) and Nick Ford (offensive line); Washington State’s Brennan Jackson (defensive line); and Oregon’s Noah Sewell (freshman).

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