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IOWA CITY, Ia. — After a brief injury reprieve, it was back to the health updates at Kirk Ferentz's Tuesday football news conference. 

Headlining the injury report are two Iowa starters: wide receiver Brandon Smith and linebacker Kristian Welch. Both sound doubtful for Saturday's 11 a.m. game at Northwestern and beyond. 

Welch missed Iowa's 26-20 win over Purdue. Smith suffered a right leg injury late in Saturday's win.

"On the injury front," Ferentz said, "Kristian right now still isn't practicing, so we'll just have to see how it goes. But I'm not overly optimistic there, in that regard.

"And then we didn't put Brandon on the depth chart this week. His injury right now looks like it's going to take a couple weeks. We were optimistic Sunday — but we got a test (Monday) — and it looks like it's going to take a little while to get him back out on the field.  So that's just the way that goes. It's unfortunate, certainly."      

Ferentz later expanded on Smith's injury, saying it's "worse than a bone bruise" and that Smith could be out "three, four, five weeks." That means Smith would miss not only Saturday's contest but likely Iowa's big Nov. 9 game at Wisconsin.

"It looked like it might have been a contusion," Ferentz said, "and then it went south on us." 

Look for Tyrone Tracy Jr., among others, to fill in during Smith's absence. In-state products Dillon Doyle and Jack Campbell split Welch's duties against Purdue. That arrangement will likely continue Saturday. 

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.

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