- David M. Hale, ESPN Staff Writer
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- He's huge, nearly 270 pounds. His numbers are impressive, including 5.5 sacks and 38 tackles off the bench last season. But with two potential All-Americans ahead of him on the depth chart, Cornellius Carradine still manages to fade into the background.
That might change this season, however.
"Me and Brandon [Jenkins] are nominated for a lot of individual awards, but Tank, you guys don't know him yet," junior Bjoern Werner said. "You'll be surprised. He'll be sitting here at the end of the season and you won't want to talk to us anymore."
Werner may be overstating things just a tad, but when Jenkins went down with a foot injury in Saturday's opener against Murray State, Carradine stepped in and the Florida State defense didn't miss a beat.
Carradine finished the game with a team-high nine tackles, including two for a loss, and one sack. Combined, Jenkins, Werner and Carradine tallied six sacks in the game.
"Tank's not really a third defensive end," Jimbo Fisher said. "They're 1A, 1B and 1C."
Carradine could get the first start of his career Saturday against Savannah State if Jenkins' foot is not fully recovered in time.
Fisher said Monday that, despite X-rays coming back negative following the injury, Jenkins would likely undergo a precautionary MRI to be safe, saying that the foot was still sore and bruised.
Considering Savannah State lost its opener to Oklahoma State 84-0, there's probably little need to push Jenkins' recovery schedule, meaning Carradine should see plenty of action.
But while a start would be a nice honor, Carradine said he's long since gotten past any lingering feelings of resentment about his usual role as understudy to the two more well-known defensive ends at Florida State.
"At first I did care, but now I feel like I'm also playing with other great D-ends," Carradine said. "I can accept the fact of not starting, as long as we're all out there making it happen."
That, of course, doesn't mean Carradine isn't approaching his role as if he were the starter. And now that the former junior-college transfer has a year of playing time under his belt at FSU, he's fairly certain his production so far has been just the tip of the iceberg.
"I think I can improve a lot more just being out there and knowing my assignments," Carradine said. "Last year I had to think about everything and plays would just come along. I can progress way more over last year just by knowing what I'm doing and having experience."
Injury updates: Defensive tackle Anthony McCloud appears to be making progress from a pectoral injury that cost him the bulk of fall camp and forced him out of Saturday's opener against Murray State.
McCloud was back at practice Monday -- wearing pads, but also a blue non-contact jersey -- and Fisher said he thought the senior was getting close to a full return.
"We'll start evaluating him, pushing and pulling him a little this week and getting him so he'll have a chance," Fisher said.
Tight end Nick O'Leary (thigh bruise) and fullback Chad Abram (ankle) were both dinged up against Murray State, and both sat out the early portions of Monday's practice open to the media, riding the exercise bikes along the sideline instead.
Fisher said he did not expect either player to miss a significant chunk of time, and both could return to full workouts within the next day or two.
Penn State transfer Kevin Haplea took the bulk of the first-team reps at tight end with O'Leary absent.
Turning a corner: Fisher said he was particularly pleased with the efforts of both Nick Waisome and Ronald Darby in Saturday's win over Murray State, and he suggested both will continue to receive significant playing time moving forward.
"I hope so," Fisher said of using both young cornerbacks. "That means both guys are playing well."
Waisome won the starting field corner job vacated when Greg Reid was dismissed from the team last month, but Darby, a true freshman, has wowed coaches in practice and earned a hefty portion of Saturday's reps in the secondary.
Neither player allowed much, and Murray State's longest passing play of the day was just 16 yards. Darby nearly had an interception on his first snap of the game, but couldn't hang on.
The goal is for FSU to have depth at a position that, just a few weeks earlier, had been a huge question mark.
"I want to get where both of them are developed so if one of them gets nicked up or banged up, having two guys you feel very comfortable with putting in the game," Fisher said. "I thought for a first start and a first game, both guys played extremely well."
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