CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina lost running back Johnny White in the third quarter and linebacker Quan Sturdivant in the fourth to injuries in Saturday's 17-13 win at Rutgers.
UNC coach Butch Davis didn't know if either starter would be able to play against East Carolina this week.
"We'll get a much better, clearer picture as to their availability probably by Thursday," Davis said Monday. "They'll get all the treatment that they can and we'll have a better idea later on in the week."
White turned his right ankle at 10:01 in the third quarter and did not have another rushing attempt or reception the rest of the game. Sturdivant tweaked his left hamstring tackling Rutgers quarterback Tom Savage at 14:44 in the fourth quarter and did not return for the rest of the game.
With 12 players still sidelined by an NCAA investigation, UNC can't afford to lose any available starters, not ones as valuable as White and Sturdivant, senior quarterback T.J. Yates said.
"To not have one of those guys would be big for us, especially Quan on defense," Yates said. "He's the guy that gets everybody going; he's the quarterback over there."
Sturdivant registered a team-best 12 tackles with a sack and three tackles for loss in limited time against Rutgers. Between the injury and the substitution pattern, Sturdivant only took 41 snaps on defense, Davis said.
Sturdivant starts at "will" linebacker in UNC's 4-3 scheme and leads the team in tackles with 27. Zach Brown started in his place against LSU and would likely start against ECU if Sturdivant can't go.
With six starters, and seven regulars, already missing from the ACC's top defense in 2009, junior safety Matt Merletti said the Heels have learned how to take missing stars in stride.
"Honestly, we're not really focused on whether Quan can play or not," Merletti said. "We have more linebackers. Everyone was saying the same thing when our whole secondary was out and we seem to be doing just fine. If Quan's out, I mean hey, we've got replacements. If he's healthy, obviously we want him in there."
White has emerged as UNC's top threat on offense with Ryan Houston, last year's leading rusher sidelined by the investigation, and Shaun Draughn having to sit out one game because of the investigation.
White finished with 99 total yards against Rutgers — 36 rushing, on 10 attempts, and 63 receiving, on four catches. White rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown against Georgia Tech.
After the ankle injury at Rutgers, White did come back for one offensive snap — a running play by Anthony Elzy — and special teams. Yates said he expects White to play.
With White banged up, Draughn stepped in an ran for 55 yards on eight carries, all in the second half.
"I'm pretty confident Johnny will be back," Yates said. "We would be fine rolling with Shaun, but I think the defense would struggle without Quan."