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Nebraska vs. Purdue, 10.31.15

Nebraska's De'Mornay Pierson-El (15) is upended during first quarter action at Ross-Ade Stadium Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015.

ERIC GREGORY/Lincoln Journal Star

Nebraska will have a wealth of returning talent at receiver in 2016.

Competition in spring practice will be fun to watch.

It would be even more fun if De'Mornay Pierson-El was available to participate. But Husker receivers coach Keith Williams said Wednesday he doesn't think that will be the case.

"You want him out there, but I want him to be healthy so I don't want to rush him," Williams said after Nebraska's bowl practice. "I don't want to push it. If he's not ready to go, you just have to adjust and deal with it."

Pierson-El remains in what Williams described as the "early stages" of recovery from a fracture in his left leg suffered while celebrating a teammate's touchdown Oct. 31 against Purdue. All told, injuries limited Pierson-El to five games this season. He caught 12 passes for 111 yards in the five games and also returned four punts for 48 yards, with a long of 42 at Minnesota, before the gruesome injury at Purdue.

Last season, he led the nation in punt return yards and tied for the national lead with three returns for touchdowns.

He's been watching bowl practices in sweat clothes.

"You know how it progresses -- from crutches, to walking, to jogging," Williams said.

A sophomore from Alexandria, Virginia, Pierson-El is walking with a less-noticeable limp. He declined interview requests this week, saying he'll talk to the media whenever he scores his next touchdown.

If you're a Nebraska fan, you hope that occurs Sept. 3 against Fresno State, in the '16 season-opener.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com.

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Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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