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August 6, 2012Danny Hope after practice
Potential has long been the word for tight end Gabe Holmes.
Now, though, having become an upperclassman and healthy for the first time in years, the 6-foot-5, 260-pound junior feels like he's ready to go.
"Potential is just potential," he said. "It's not really worth nothing. But I think I can be one of the top tight ends in the league and the country."
That's long been Purdue's expectation, as well, but it hasn't materialized for Holmes. A patella tendon injury hasn't helped - the dislocation first occurred as a freshman, then did so again twice last season, the latter requiring surgery in January - keeping his production down. In 2011, he had 11 catches for 133 yards and a touchdown.
Holmes sat out the spring, doing only limited skelly-type work but without contact, and estimates that he's at about 95 to 100 percent now.
"It's been frustrating (to be injured)," he said. "But I feel like every setback gives me a chance for a comeback, so that's how I've been looking at it. I've been rehabbing and trying to get better, for bigger and better things."
Holmes could lead a deep - and potentially very effective - tight end corps, with senior captain Crosby Wright, sophomore Justin Sinz and senior Sterling Carter, with several other potential contributors, too.
But Holmes potentially could be the biggest offensive threat.
"I think he's going to maximize his potential," Coach Danny Hope said after practice Monday. "I see it happening out there in practice and he can be a great tight end and I think it can be this year.
"He's healthy now and he hasn't been. He's more sure about what he's doing."
Holmes could also give the Boilermakers a much-needed deep threat. He's bigger, and faster, than many linebackers, which could give him a chance to get up the seam for big passing gains. It was a part of Purdue's offense that's been sorely lacking in recent years.
"Absolutely," Hope said. "As tall as he is and as fast as he is, that has to be part of the plan."
Freshman Jordan Shine's career at Purdue could be over before it has even begun.
The safety has been absent from practice thus far, due to not yet passing his physical, according to Hope.
"There's some concern," Hope said. "That's why he's not practicing. Obviously, safety is an issue, and there's a medical issue. We'll find out more, but it's a concern."
Junior wide receiver O.J. Ross wasn't at practice Monday, excused for what Hope called a "personal issue."
"He's fine right now," Hope said of Ross' standing at Purdue. "I excused him from practice to take care of a personal issue."
Ross is coming back to the Boilermakers after being suspended for the bowl game and the first half of the spring due to an academics-related issue. But he returned to the team for the latter half of spring practices, and is thought to be good-to-go for the season.
A year ago, he also missed a portion of training camp due to the birth of his child.
Senior defensive tackle LaSalle Cooks, who has seen very limited playing time during his career, is no longer on the roster.
The Boilers were in "uppers" for the first time during training camp, with shoulder pads, etc., on, but in shorts, as well.
"A good day overall," Hope said. "Very similar to where we were in the spring. We expected to come out and be real fast and real physical right off the bat, and we weren't. We have to get into football shape. Even though it was a good day, we aren't as fast as we're going to be and not as physical as we're going to be. We'll get into football shape and that will happen quickly. We'll execute better, go faster and be more physical.
"But I like what we saw and we're better off than we have been."
Freshman B.J. Knauf has battled a bit of a back injury, and was largely held out of practice on Monday.
"He was really sore," Hope said. "He was doing very well, so we want to get him healed back up so he can go fast and go hard and be able to protect himself."
Also, veteran backup safety Chris Quinn has been limited due to a minor hamstring injury.
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