Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase jogged onto the field at the start of practice and appeared much more mobile Wednesday during the portion of the session open to the media. While there were still signs of stiffness in the sprained ankle, Scheelhaase looked greatly improved from the previous day.

CHAMPAIGN -- Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase jogged onto the field at the start of practice and appeared much more mobile Wednesday during the portion of the session open to the media. While there were still signs of stiffness in the sprained ankle, Scheelhaase looked greatly improved from the previous day.

Nevertheless, the Illini were preparing backups Miles Osei and Reilly O'Toole to play.

Illini coach Tim Beckman said Osei and O'Toole were "neck and neck to determine who is the starting quarterback. We'll see how Nathan progresses.''

Illinois (1-0) plays at Arizona State (1-0) on Saturday (9:30 p.m., ESPN). Beckman cut short questions on Scheelhaase after the workout.

"He practiced today,'' Beckman said. "We'll see how it responds. He's out there practicing. He's much better than he was yesterday.

"It's been progressing, and we'll have to make that decision on Thursday after practice.''

In NFL terms, Scheelhaase might be listed as questionable with a chance for improvement in the three days prior to kickoff. Scheelhaase has a string of 27 consecutive starts.

Safety Steve Hull was back as a first-stringer at safety with Earnest Thomas. Hull is attempting to rebound from shoulder surgery.

John Supinie can be reached at Johnsupinie@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @JohnSupinie.