Rice star Phillip Gaines is suspended for opener vs. Texas A&M

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Heavy underdog Rice will be without two defensive starters when it plays at Texas A&M on Saturday in its opener.

Senior cornerback Phillip Gaines (6 feet 1, 185 pounds), who was voted Conference USA's preseason defensive player of the year, has been suspended for a violation of team rules. Senior linebacker Cameron Nwosu (5-10, 240), who made 92 tackles last season, has a knee injury that has kept him out of fall camp.

Gaines, a fifth-year senior, is a team captain. Coach David Bailiff said Gaines will travel with the team to the game but not play. Gaines had 18 pass breakups last season, second-most in the nation. Redshirt freshman Darrion Pollard (5-8, 175) will start for Gaines; Pollard played in last season's opener against UCLA, but was injured in that game and received a medical redshirt for the season.

Senior Michael Kutzler (6-0, 205) will start for Nwosu. Most of his action in his first three seasons came on special teams.

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

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