With injury behind him, Casey Rogers wants to help carry ‘our brand’ for NU’s defensive line
Don’t tell Casey Rogers that last weekend’s Red-White Spring Game was just a practice.
In Rogers’ mind, the scrimmage counted in a big way.
The Nebraska defensive end had been working his way back from a torn labrum that derailed his first fall on campus. It’s also been a life-long goal of Rogers to play college football, and Saturday was his first chance to pop someone in front a big crowd.
So, yeah, the Red-White game counted.
“My heart was filled because it was probably the most fun I’ve had since — I don’t even remember — since I was born,” the Syracuse, New York, native said after the game. “It was really fun and it was really cool, but now we’ve got to work on getting ready for the actual season.”
Rogers started Saturday’s game on the White squad, compiling four tackles, including two behind the line of scrimmage, against the Red’s top unit. He moved over to the Red Team in the second half and was credited with a sack.
Injury or not, Rogers was likely in line for a redshirt last season. At 6-foot-4 and 275 pounds, he now aims to factor into the mix this year. Nebraska will have several veterans in the mix, too, and Rogers is looking to make the most of the situation.
“You can always work on your techniques and stuff like that,” Rogers said, when asked what his summer steps are. “I’m going to take advantage of the depth we have in our D-line grouping and get with them and watch some film. If Coach (Tony Tuioti) is around, then I’ll be watching film with him.”
Though Rogers remains one of the youngest players in the defensive line room, he’s not shying away from voicing what steps the defensive line needs to take to compete at a high level in the Big Ten.
Rogers said Tuioti, the first-year D-line coach, wanted the group to make a statement Saturday. Show “our brand,” Rogers said.
“I think the D-line as a whole position group really wanted to show, not just the fans, but the whole team we’re (in) a new mode,” he added. “We have a whole different style of play and we’re all going to come out really hard and I think we got a sneak peek of that (Saturday).”
That different style includes an emphasis on stopping the run and simply being tougher, Rogers says.
“I think we realized that last year we weren’t exactly where we wanted to be and I think it’s really important this year that we found that,” the former lacrosse standout said. “We know where we want to be and we can see ourselves progressing to where we want to be.
“I think just that dog mentality that we’re going to fight every down, you’re not going to get a yard on us easy, so I think that’s the most important thing right now.”
As for his own health, Rogers is feeling 100 percent. The injury is behind him.
Well, sort of.
“Being injured last year kind of put a little chip on my shoulder,” Rogers said. “It was cool to watch the games, but like everyone says, it’s more fun to play.
“To get in front of that crowd and play for the first time, it’s life-changing. But we have a lot more, I have a lot more games to play in front of them in my career.”