Duke starting safety Jeremy McDuffie has a broken thumb. Here’s when he’ll return to the field.

Duke’s Jeremy McDuffie, right, tries to defend Pitt’s Zach Challingsworth in 2015.
Duke’s Jeremy McDuffie, right, tries to defend Pitt’s Zach Challingsworth in 2015. Getty Images

Duke starting safety Jeremy McDuffie has a fractured right thumb that had him sidelined with a sling and cast rather than practicing with the Blue Devils on Wednesday morning.

That doesn’t mean, though, that the 5-11, 175-pound junior will miss any games this season.

Duke coach David Cutcliffe said McDuffie’s doctors have said he should be able to play this season while wearing the cast. Duke opens its season Sept. 2 at Wallace Wade Stadium against N.C. Central. Cutcliffe said he is confident McDuffie will be available.

“He should be back in fairly short order,” Cutcliffe said.

McDuffie’s injury occurred during the team’s scrimmage on Saturday. He had surgery to repair the broken bone on Tuesday.

“It has been repaired, and he is casted,” Cutcliffe said. “At a point where there is no pain, he can play in the cast. We will protect it at all costs. But at the same time, he wants to get back out there, and we have to work to get him back out there.”

A cornerback earlier in his career, the speedy McDuffie transitioned to safety last spring and shared the team’s most improved defensive player award for spring practice with defensive end Tre Hornbuckle.

McDuffie is a starter at the strike safety position in Duke’s 4-2-5 defensive alignment.

Duke’s medical staff will monitor the thumb’s healing regularly and, Cutcliffe said, could at some point place a smaller cast on the hand. The current cast immobilizes his right thumb and covers the arm below the elbow.

In the meantime, younger defensive backs have been able to get extra work in practices this week. Sophomore Dylan Singleton is capable of sliding over to strike from Duke’s rover safety position. Freshman Michael Carter has also impressed.

“He’s probably the guy who is climbing very rapidly,” Cutcliffe said.

Duke has its second preseason scrimmage on Friday, and its Meet the Blue Devils event is Saturday at Pascal Field House.