Louisville wide receiver DeVante Parker -- one of the top seniors at the position nationally -- needs foot surgery and will miss up to eight weeks.
Louisville opens the season Monday night with an ACC showdown against Miami, and Parker also likely will miss at least six other games. He could miss as many as eight.
"You're never going to replace a guy like DeVante with one guy," Petrino told reporters. "We'll need a lot of guys to step up in his absence."
Parker had considered going pro after last season, but decided to return for his senior year.
The prime candidates to take over as the go-to receiver in Parker's absence are senior Eli Rogers and sophomore James Quick. Rogers, who was a high school teammate of former Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, never has caught more than 46 passes in a season nor had more than 536 yards. He figured to be targeted more often in Petrino's attack, and now that seems to be a given.
Senior Kai De La Cruz, senior Michaelee Harris, also a former Bridgewater high school teammate, and senior Matt Milton, who began his career at Tennessee, also need to step up their production levels. Tight end Gerald Christian should become a more important weapon, as well. While Christian -- who began his career at Florida -- is lacking as a blocker, he is a good athlete who can get deep.