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Pitt starting TB Isaac Bennett could miss opener vs. Florida State

Pittsburgh might be without its top two tailbacks when it opens ACC play Monday night against Florida State.

Junior starter Isaac Bennett (5-feet-11, 205 pounds) suffered a knee injury at the end of the first week of fall camp and has had no contact since. Bennett, who was the third-teamer last season, has rushed for 378 yards and five TDs in the past two seasons.

"He did some stuff [Sunday] in practice," Pitt coach Paul Chryst said Monday at his weekly press conference. "He obviously missed quite a bit of time, so it's still a little too early to tell."

True freshman James Conner (6-2, 230) was set to be the backup, but he suffered a shoulder injury late last week; coaches are hopeful he can practice this week.

Sophomore Malcolm Crockett (5-10, 205) is next in line. He rushed for 50 yards last season, with the bulk of his yardage coming in a rout of FCS member Gardner-Webb.

Pitt lost its top two rushers from last season. Ray Graham was a senior, and Rushel Shell transferred to West Virginia after his freshman season.

Pitt was going to have problems moving the ball against Florida State anyway. The 'Noles' defense should be one of the best in the nation, and if Panthers quarterback Tom Savage isn’t able to use play-action, FSU pass rushers are going to overwhelm Pitt's inexperienced tackles.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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