Running back Jordan Rowell, shown during the University of Maine’s opening football practice on Aug. 1, suffered an injury to his right knee last week during an intrasquad scrimmage last week. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

University of Maine football coach Nick Charlton said Monday that running back Jordan Rowell likely has escaped a serious knee injury after being helped off the field during the team’s first intrasquad scrimmage last week.

Rowell, a sophomore who transferred to the Black Bears from Northern Illinois, was forced to use crutches and wear a brace on his right leg. Charlton said Rowell is off the crutches now.

“He’s being evaluated (Tuesday) but we feel it’s not a serious knee injury,” said Charlton. “We’re optimistic. We’ve had our trainers and doctors look at it. He’ll miss some time, realistically, but I don’t think it’ll be anything crazy.”

Rowell will not participate in UMaine’s second scrimmage, scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Rowell is vying with Emmanuel Reed (a grad student transfer from Buffalo) and freshman Curtis Murray for time at running back.

“We did goal-line practice today and he was raring to go,” said Charlton. “We’ll see when he’s able to get back out there and rejoin the team on the field.”

Wednesday’s scrimmage is the second of three in training camp and is likely to determine several positional battles.

“This is the last scrimmage where you’re going to see the starters go live and let them get in the flow of the game where there’s tackling,” said Charlton.

Of particular note are the battles for the two safety positions, tight end and back-up quarterback.

Senior Joshua Huffman, junior Erick Robertson, sophomore Richard Carr and Jeremiah Dadeboe (another grad transfer from Buffalo) are in the mix at safety. Robertson may not play in this scrimmage after suffering a mild concussion in the first scrimmage.

At tight end, redshirt freshman Shawn Bowman, sophomores Michael Laverriere (from Arundel and Thornton Academy), Ori Jean-Charles (a transfer from Louisville) and Daniel Rymer and Kevin Falaki (a grad student transfer from Assumption) are in contention for the tight end spot.

“There are some battles going on,” said Charlton. “This is definitely a valuable scrimmage.”

Chris Ferguson is entrenched as Maine’s starting quarterback. But his back-up is still up in the air. Redshirt freshmen Ryan Walsh and Grant Hartley (of Auburn and Edward Little High) return and freshman Joe Fagnano, from Williamsport, Pennsylvania, has looked sharp in training camp.

“Joe has been very good for a true freshman,” said Charlton. “He’s shown poise, he can run the operation and he can make the throws. And if he makes a mistake, he corrects it, which is something freshmen can struggle with.”

Charlton said the team’s the third scrimmage, slated for next week, will be played mostly by younger players vying for roles on the depth chart.

Injured seniors Joe Fitzpatrick, a running back from North Yarmouth and Cheverus High, and wide receiver Earnest Edwards, a preseason first-team all-Colonial Athletic Association pick at wide receiver and as a kick returner, will return to practice soon, Charlton said. Fitzpatrick is sidelined with a back injury and Edwards with a hamstring injury.

“We’re really just being cautious with them,” said Charlton. “They have nagging injuries that can be re-aggravated easily.”

Maine, which finished 10-4 last year and advanced to the national semifinals, opens its season at 6 p.m. Aug. 30 against Sacred Heart University at Alfond Stadium.

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