Notre Dame Safety Nicky Baratti out for 2013 Season

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistAugust 12, 2013

Photo Credit: 247Sports
Photo Credit: 247Sports

Notre Dame safety Nicky Baratti has re-injured the shoulder that kept him out of spring ball and will be forced to miss the entire 2013 season.

According to Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune, the shoulder has been dislocated:

A 3-star athlete coming out of high school, Baratti made a quick transition to safety as a true freshman in 2012. He didn't get a lot of playing time but saw the field enough to get his feet wet, even intercepting a halfback pass on the goal line against Michigan in Week 4.

According to Hamilton, Baratti had been running with the second-team in fall practices but was expected to challenge Elijah Shumate for a first-string role. Even if he was relegated to being a backup, Baratti would have provided invaluable depth, experienced special teams work and occasional defensive snaps.

This is the second consecutive year where Notre Dame's secondary has taken a hit in the preseason. Last year around this time, cornerback Lo Wood ruptured his achilles tendon and was ruled out for the season. At the time, it was supposed to be a monumental loss for the Irish's secondary—a unit that was pegged as among the team's weakest.

But the secondary was able to mitigate Wood's absence, thanks in large part to the ascent of cornerbacks Bennett Jackson and Keivarae Russell. This year, fellow safeties Shumate, Matthias Farley, Austin Collinsworth, Eliar Hardy and Max Redfield will need to step up in Baratti's wake.

If they do, this is hardly a death sentence for Notre Dame's defense. The Irish should still—barring more unforeseen injuries—boast one of the nation's top units. This is merely a step, not a leap, in the wrong direction.

But the margin for error is shrinking.