Penn State Football: O'Brien Monitoring Minor Bumps and Bruises with Season Opener 11 Days Out
Bumps and bruises are aplenty. Several Penn State players sat out practice Tuesday nursing minor injuries or just given a day to rest up and alleviate the pounding an August training camp entails.
There are no major injuries at this point. Safety Jake Fagnano may be taking the biggest hit; a nagging hamstring continues to keep him off the field 11 days out from the season opener against Ohio at Beaver Stadium.
“You gotta let it heal cause otherwise it’ll keep nagging at you,” coach Bill O’Brien said before practice Tuesday. “Hopefully Jake will get back in there soon.”
Malcolm Willis, who solidified one safety position, did not practice as he continues to recover from a minor ankle injury.
Among the others who sat out:
- Wide receiver Shawney Kersey (ankle)
- Wide receiver Malik Golden (hip flexor)
- Defensive end Brad Bars (ankle)
- Tight end Garry Gilliam (quad tweak)
- Defensive end Pete Massaro (precautionary)
- Running back Derek Day (precautionary)
Day, a senior who earned a scholarship after walking on to the program, has earned back-up duty to sophomore Bill Belton, O’Brien said.
The coaching staff planned to give certain key players days off throughout camp to save their bodies for the rigors of a 12-game regular season, O'Brien said. Numbers are down at certain positions — the secondary, you know — and it’s just common sense to not pound the crap out of each other.
Some of the biggest beneficiaries of this coaching style are true freshmen hoping to make an impression on a brand new staff. Jordan Lucas and Da’Quan Davis are doing so in the secondary; start remembering Trevor Williams and Eugene Lewis at wide receiver; Akeel Lynch, the freshman running back, could warrant a few carries.
Steven Bench, the freshman quarterback from Georgia, is looking like he may avoid a redshirt and could challenge Paul Jones to back-up Matt McGloin. As O'Brien put it: "[Jones has] gotta play more consistent. He's gotta make better decisions, and the freshman Steven Bench has come in here and done well. That’s good competition there."
Most starting positions are settled. One to watch the last week of camp, however, is right tackle, where Mike Farrell has come on strong lately to challenge Adam Gress, the winter workout wonder.
“No question it’s a competition,” O’Brien said. “Mike had a really good summer obviously, and so did Adam, but Mike’s an improved player and those guys will both play for us, I’ll tell you that.”
One guy who will see plenty of action is sophomore defensive back Adrian Amos, who will float around from corner to safety and any defensive position that doesn’t require a three-point stance.
“You can expect Amos to be in any position on defense except for the defensive line,” O’Brien said. Amos, along with Belton and wide receiver Evan Lewis appear to be candidates for the return game, as well.
But this only comes from an hour-long glimpse on a Tuesday in the second-to-last week of practice before meaningful football is played.
Keys pieces have emerged since camp opened Aug. 6. The next 11 days are about keeping those pieces intact as much as rounding out the rest.
Among Tuesday’s practice visitors were former offensive coordinator Fran Ganter, former Board of Trustees Chair and letterman Steve Garban and O’Brien’s younger son, Michael.