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A&M won’t face Rice’s top two defensive players in opener

Johnny Manziel‘s status notwithstanding, Texas A&M figured to have a relatively easy time in its opener against Rice. Monday, that task officially became measurably easier.

According to the Houston Chronicle, cornerback Phillip Gaines and linebacker Cameron Nwosu will not play in the opener this Saturday against A&M for very different reasons.

Gaines was slapped with a one-game suspension for, of course, violating unspecified team rules. Nwosu, on the other hand, will miss the game due to a knee injury incurred during summer camp.

The loss of Gaines is particularly significant. Named the Conference USA Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, Gaines is coming off a season in which finished second nationally in pass breakups (18).

Nwosu, a senior, has started the past 25 games at linebacker for the Owls. He finished second on the team last season with 92 tackles.