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Tristan Wirfs discusses how Iowa’s offensive line handled Alaric Jackson’s injury Dargan Southard, msouthard@gannett.com

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Iowa left tackle Alaric Jackson will return this football season, but he's expected to miss several weeks after suffering a right knee injury in the first quarter of Saturday's season opener.

Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz said Sunday night that Jackson should avoid surgery, which at least is a silver lining of the worst-case scenario. Jackson left Iowa's 38-14 win against Miami (Ohio) on crutches after going down on the game's second series.

Ferentz told the university's website that tests were conducted Sunday and it didn't seem overly serious.

"Every injury is serious, but the good news is, it doesn't look like it will necessitate any kind of surgery," Ferentz said. "I think we're looking at a matter of weeks right now, but it could have been a lot worse."

At minimum, it sounds like the 6-foot-7, 320-pound Jackson — a second-team all-Big Ten pick a year ago and a potential first-round NFL Draft pick — will miss this week's conference opener against Rutgers and the Sept. 14 showdown at Iowa State. After that, Iowa has an off week and returns to action Sept. 28 against Middle Tennessee State.

It would be excellent news if Jackson could return in time for the brunt of Iowa's Big Ten schedule, which begins Oct. 5 at Michigan.

Where does Iowa go from here? Well, Ferentz will address the media Tuesday, perhaps shedding more light on the interim plans on the offensive line.

But the depth chart that Iowa released Monday indicates a comfort level with the first-team line that got the majority of the work Saturday after Jackson's injury: Tristan Wirfs at left tackle, Landan Paulsen at left guard, Tyler Linderbaum at center, Kyler Schott at right guard and Levi Paulsen at right tackle.

Schott, a redshirt sophomore from North Linn High School, is a walk-on who showed up Saturday as a physical run blocker. The long-haired, 6-foot-2, 290-pounder drew rave reviews from teammate A.J. Epenesa after the game.

"One of my best friends on the team," Epenesa said. "Typical Iowa guy. Walk-on. Works hard. Strong. Real strong. Put him on an incline bench, see what he can throw up. Nose to the grindstone, keeps going, doesn't quit.

"I was really proud to see him on the field and conducting himself like he's been there before."

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