Nebraska will be without its biggest weapon for the foreseeable future.

Huskers coach Mike Riley announced on Wednesday that return specialist/receiver De’Mornay Pierson-El will be sidelined for the next 6-8 weeks after injuring his foot in practice on Tuesday.

This was the statement released by the university:

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Pierson-El, who was tabbed a preseason All-American special teams player by several publications, led the nation in punt return yards as a true freshman in 2014.

Under new offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf, Pierson-El was expected to have an even greater role in the Nebraska offense than he did last year. He emerged in the passing game down the stretch for Nebraska, and recorded his first 100-yard receiving game in the Holiday Bowl against USC.

If Pierson-El sticks to Riley’s 6-8 timeframe, he would return for the start of the Big Ten slate. Nebraska does have a showdown against reining West Division winner Wisconsin in the second week of conference play, which Pierson-El would be back for if he’s only sidelined for seven weeks.

In the immediate future, it puts the Husker offense in an even less favorable position. Nebraska was already dealing with camp injuries to Jordan Westerkamp, Alonzo Moore and Brandon Reilly, all of whom still figure to be healthy for the opener.

The news means that even more will fall on the shoulders of Tommy Armstrong and the Nebraska ground game. The third-year starter is still shifting to a pro-style offense. With the departures of Ameer Abdullah and Kenny Bell, Nebraska was already in need of more playmakers at the skill positions.

The loss of Pierson-El could only be for the non-conference slate, but anything more could hinder Nebraska’s bid for a West Division title.