With offseason surgeries, Fleck expects most players ready by mid-August

Minnesota had 22 players go through surgeries since the end of last season.

Jack Warrick

Gophers fans worrying about injuries carrying over from last year can breathe easy.

Head coach P.J. Fleck said all players on the roster will likely be able to perform contact drills by Aug. 10.

“Just because you’re cleared, you’re fine,” Fleck said. “Playing Big 10 football and at an exceptionally high level with the speed we play at, that takes a while to get used to.”

Linebacker Blake Cashman and cornerback Coney Durr are among the 22 Gophers coming off surgeries who will possibly need until Aug. 10 to reach hitting speed.

Cashman said he started off stabilizing his muscles before working in the weight room.

“My shoulders feel great right now,” Cashman said. “We’re going to slowly work into it just because I haven’t hit, done any contact since the bowl game.”

Cashman had 7.5 sacks for the Gophers last year and earned a scholarship after the season.

Quarterback Mitch Leidner graduated from the team after starting 12 of 13 games a season ago. Though the team will have a new quarterback this season, running backs Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks — the team’s top-two leading rushers — both return.

“You’ve got to practice [Smith and Brooks],” Fleck said. “They’re really the heartbeat of this football team when you start talking about guys that are back, experienced players.”

Fleck said the offseason surgeries were something he saw at his last stop — Western Michigan.

“We knew our strength program would catch up with the times and make everybody better, but, at the moment, what could we do,” Fleck said. “That’s when we started really getting into the yoga, Pilates, the rest and relaxation.”

Notebook

-The Gophers will have six fall practices open to the public — Aug. 4, 5, 8, 11, 15 and 17.

-Being P.J. Fleck, a show on the team presented by ESPNU, will premiere Aug. 2.

-After the team’s HYPR Hangout, a camp for Gophers’ prospects, four recruits committed to Minnesota, including a former decomitt, Nolan Edmonds.