ORONO — Chris Ferguson was on the practice field Wednesday morning. But once again the University of Maine sophomore quarterback wasn’t wearing a helmet or pads, instead participating in sweats, making him questionable for the Black Bears home game with Villanova on Saturday.

“Good to be out here, be with the guys, with the team, getting ready for Nova,” said Ferguson is his first interview since he injured his right shoulder in the first quarter of Maine’s game at Central Michigan on Sept. 22.

Chris Ferguson

If Ferguson can’t play Saturday, redshirt freshman Isaiah Robinson once again will get the start. Since replacing Ferguson, Robinson has completed 26 of 59 passes (44 percent) for 341 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

He struggled in last week’s 35-14 loss at Yale, completing just 10 of 27 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns.

Ferguson, who was not wearing a sling on his right arm Wednesday, said he is still “day-to-day” and working daily with head athletic trainer Ryan Taylor and Jon Lynch, the director of sports performance for football. “I’m in there any time I can, still preparing like I’m playing,” he said.

And if he can’t play?

“I’m kind of making sure (Robinson is) taking the proper steps to make sure he’s ready for the game,” he said.

Ferguson listened to the play calls on headsets at Yale, giving him a different perspective.

“Last week was tough, but you’ve got to have a positive mindset for whatever you’re doing,” he said.

Ferguson’s injury isn’t the only one that the Black Bears are dealing with as they attempt to break a two-game losing skid. Cornerback Jordan Swann will undergo surgery on his right thumb Thursday and is out indefinitely. Running back Ramon Jefferson is questionable with a hamstring injury. Defensive end Jamehl Wiley has a bruised shoulder.

Other injured players have returned to practice: offensive linemen Gunnar Docos (foot) and Liam Dobson (eye), cornerback Manny Patterson (leg) and defensive end Alejandro Oregon (ankle).

Ferguson’s injury, however, is the biggest to overcome. Maine started with wins over UNH and Western Kentucky with Ferguson completing 56 percent of his passes for 405 yards, five touchdowns and one interception.

“No matter what level you’re at, if your quarterback plays well, you have a chance to win,” said UMaine Coach Joe Harasymiak. “You look around this league and you see that happening everywhere.”

Villanova may also have a quandary. Starting quarterback Zach Bednarczyk, who missed the final six games last year with an injury, was hurt in last week’s 29-27 loss at Stony Brook. Coach Mark Ferrante indicated Monday that Bednarczyk was being examined but that he “didn’t appear to have any structural damage” to his shoulder.

This is a big game for both teams. Maine, ranked 25th in both national Football Championship Subdivision polls, is 2-2 but is 1-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association. Villanova, ranked 19th, is 3-2 but 0-2 in the CAA.

Senior tackle Cody Levy sees this as a chance to knock Villanova “out of contention” in the CAA race and to stop Maine’s four-game losing skid against the Wildcats.

“We’ve got to bounce back and get in the win column, get that feeling we had in week one and week two,” said senior safety Jeff DeVaughn. “The last two weeks we haven’t liked that feeling.”

Running back Joe Fitzpatrick, the former Cheverus High star, said the Black Bears can’t put too much pressure on themselves to win this game. “I don’t think there’s any pressure on us to go out and do anything out of the ordinary,” he said. “We just want to get back to doing what we do.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

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