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Klein faces uphill battle to contribute

8/23/2012

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The starting job had already slipped away in the spring.

The last part of offseason workouts in the summer continued without him.

Ohio State started and ended training camp without Storm Klein as well, and they'll head into the fall with him suspended for at least two games, the school announced.

The Buckeyes are getting an experienced player back on the roster at a position that might have the least depth of any unit this season. But even after coach Urban Meyer reinstated Klein on Thursday night, simply rejoining the team doesn't necessarily mean it will be easy for Klein to return and make an impact defensively after missing valuable time away from the program.

Sitting out the early games won't help, either, because the same players who have benefited from the practice reps Klein couldn't take this month figure to also get live work early in the season. And with newcomers who have excited the coaching staff -- such as Jamal Marcus, Joshua Perry, Camren Williams and David Perkins -- perhaps getting a chance to show what they can do while gaining critical experience, Klein could find it hard to get back on the field himself.

Klein isn't exactly just walking off the street and trying to play for the Buckeyes, though, and he will have some things working in his favor.

He was a starter a season ago and contributed 45 tackles, adding a sack, an interception and a forced fumble along the way. He knows the system, though there are surely going to be schemes he's not familiar with after the installation work Ohio State did in August. And assuming Klein did what he could to stay in shape while away from the team, he has got the benefit of not only having played in the Big Ten before, but he has also had time to develop in the Ohio State strength program.

Even if he wasn't facing a suspension for at least two games, Klein figured to need an acclimation period before even having the chance to contribute. But the clock isn't going to stop ticking for him.