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Dew-Treadway, Watkins to miss extended time

BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl - Ohio State v Notre Dame

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01: Wide receiver Michael Thomas #3 of the Ohio State Buckeyes runs with the ball as Nick Watkins #21 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish attempts to make a tackle during the first quarter of the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl at the University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. Buckeyes won 44-28. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

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Notre Dame’s defensive depth took a hit this week as Micah Dew-Treadway and Nick Watkins both underwent surgical procedures. Dew-Treadway fractured his foot and is expected to miss eight weeks while Watkins had another surgery to help speed up his recovery from a broken arm.

Head coach Brian Kelly gave the injury updates after Thursday’s practice, Notre Dame’s first day back in South Bend after opening in Culver, Indiana.

Dew-Treadway wasn’t projected as part of the two-deep as he begins his second season in the program. But the additional surgery for Watkins is a setback for a player who was expected to compete for a starting job across from Cole Luke.

“Nick Watkins had a procedure to stimulate bone growth,” Kelly explained. “We’re hopeful that this procedure, which is you know a bit of an aggressive procedure, does the trick. We’re very hopeful that it will.”

With a timetable of four weeks, the Dallas native doesn’t appear to be on schedule to face off against Texas. But this staff clearly believes he’ll be a contributor on this defense, capable of winning the starting job when he’s back healthy.

Until then, young players will step into the role. Shaun Crawford and Nick Coleman appear to be the first candidates, with Crawford sliding inside to nickel. Ashton White also is having a strong camp after redshirting last season. True freshman Donte Vaughn will also likely be activated, a 6-foot-2 cover cornerback with a skill-set that’s unique on the roster.

“We feel we’re in pretty good shape,” Kelly said. “We feel like the depth that we’ve got there, it just means some freshmen will be elevated into a more prominent role.”