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NU’s Venric Mark back at practice

Northwestern running back Venric Mark runs for touchdown first play game against Minnesotduring first half an NCAA college football game

Northwestern running back Venric Mark runs for a touchdown on the first play of the game against Minnesota during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Minneapolis Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012.(AP Photo/Andy King)

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Updated: September 24, 2013 8:34PM



Questions about senior Venric Mark’s availability for Northwestern’s Big Ten opener Oct. 5 against Ohio State might have been answered Tuesday. The running back and return specialist participated fully in practice for the first time since being injured in the season opener Aug. 31 at California.

According to Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald, Mark came out of camp ‘‘close to 100 percent.’’ But after the game against Cal, Fitzgerald said Mark had a lower-body injury. It’s unclear whether Mark reaggravated an old injury against the Golden Bears or suffered a new one.

Either way, Mark’s full participation in practice makes it reasonable to speculate he will play against the Buckeyes. Fitzgerald, though, wouldn’t say whether Mark would be available. Instead, he classified him as ‘‘day-to-day,’’ the same thing he has done since Sept. 2.

Asked whether Mark has had any setbacks in his recovery, Fitzgerald said, ‘‘Not that I’m aware of.’’

Mark hasn’t played in NU’s last three games. During the Wildcats’ 35-21 victory Saturday against Maine, he was running on the sideline and congratulating teammates after big plays.

Mark was unavailable to speak with reporters because his class schedule conflicted with scheduled media access. He is expected to address his situation this week.

NOTE: The Wildcats will host Northern Illinois on Sept. 6 of next season, the first matchup between the teams since 2005.

Email: sgruen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SethGruen



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