COLUMBUS — The depth on the Ohio State offensive line is already getting an early test.
Veteran guard Branden Bowen was still dealing with pain in his surgically-repaired leg throughout training camp, and he will be on the shelf again indefinitely for the Buckeyes. A starter last season until suffering a fractured fibula, Bowen was faced with a decision to undergo another operation in order to manage pain and get back to full strength or try to play through the discomfort. Based on a social-media post from his account on Thursday morning, the redshirt junior elected to have the procedure.
Ohio State confirm the surgery on Thursday morning, but a spokesman did not have a timeframe for recovery with Bowen’s latest health setback.
“Third surgery’s a charm?” Bowen posted to Instagram.
For Bowen, that’s obviously a tough blow as he tried to work back into the lineup and reclaim the spot he earned with the first-team unit last season. But the Buckeyes may be equipped to handle the loss moving forward thanks to the improved development and recruiting up front over the last couple years, a far cry from the thin margin of error on the line for much of the Urban Meyer Era with the program.
Ohio State hadn’t listed Bowen on the depth chart for either last week’s opener or the Big Ten matchup Saturday against Rutgers. And it appeared to have already settled on a plan for moving forward after sliding Michael Jordan to center, plugging Malcolm Pridgeon in at left guard and rolling with Demetrius Knox on the right side where he finished last season in place of Bowen.
Brady Taylor and Wyatt Davis are listed as the backups at guard for Ohio State this week. Bowen had been a key part of the equation up front for the Buckeyes until recently, and he wasn’t even a participant in the last open practice of training camp.
“He has been dealing with that leg injury and coming back from it has been a little bit slower than he’s liked,” acting Ohio State coach Ryan Day said last week. “But he’s still working through that now.
“He has missed some time and so I know he’s been frustrated with that, but it’s a long road to recovery with the injury that he had.”
Branden Bowen hasn’t reached the end of that journey yet. And after looking like he could again be a contributor for the Buckeyes, those plans are on hold again now.