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October 2, 2013
During Purdue's team drills toward the end of Wednesday's practice, Rob Henry had a different view of things.
He wasn't part of the action and he wasn't under center, instead standing deep behind the defense, trying to get a picture from the opposite side of the field. And considering he's trying to learn as quickly as possible, he had the ear of injured safety Landon Feichter, too, with the veteran giving the newcomer as much information as possible.
It was Day 1 as a safety for Henry, Purdue's now former starting QB. He wore a defensive white jersey, rather than the offense's black, and the No. 22, rather than his usual 15.
Losing his job to Danny Etling after the first five games of the season, Henry could have slid into the background, accepting a backup QB job, perhaps even as the third-stringer. But he's looking to stay engaged.
"Rob is the most unselfish guy I've been around in a long time," said Coach Darrell Hazell. "We talked (Tuesday) and one of the things he said was 'Whatever I can do to help the football team do, I'll do.' I love him for that."
Henry, who has played offense since arriving at Purdue five years ago, primarily at quarterback but also at running back and wide receiver, will have a steep learning curve. But he - and Purdue - figures it's worth a shot, particularly with the Boilermakers' secondary banged up. Feichter is out after surgery on a broken leg, and cornerbacks Ricardo Allen and Frankie Williams have also been nicked up.
Henry might have the athleticism - and know-how - to be a quick learner. That's what Purdue plans to determine in the next couple days of bye-week practices.
"We're going to see if he can play some safety," Hazell said. "If not, there's definitely some things we can do offensively with him - we know that - but we wanted to give him a look since we're so thin in the back end."
Henry was soaking in as much knowledge as possible Wednesday. During the 1s vs. 1s and 2s vs. 2s, Henry stood with Feichter behind the safeties, getting one-on-one advice; he also got some individual instruction from G.A. Logan Link, a former Purdue safety who now serves as an assistant coach in the secondary.
But at the end of practice, when Purdue had its third- and fourth-teamers facing each other, to give younger players reps, Henry was on the field for a few turns. It was predictably rough early, with the 6-foot-1, 205-pound fifth-year senior looking hesitant.
After a couple reps, he came out to find Feichter and junior safety Taylor Richards on the sideline, talking with them for a few minutes. Then, when he came back in, Williams, still sidelined after missing last week with a concussion, shouted out "Let's go Rob!"
On the last play of the drill, Dolapo Macarthy caught a pass over the middle, with Henry arriving on the scene first. Henry took contact, wrapped up Macarthy and brought him to the ground.
It brought a "There ya go, Rob!" from Richards.
Hazell handed out a pair of suspensions to redshirt freshmen wide receivers B.J. Knauf and Jordan Woods Wednesday, following the duo's arrests two days earlier on suspicion of theft.
Knauf, who will serve a two-game suspension starting with Purdue's next game Oct. 12 vs. Nebraska, was at practice Wednesday but did conditioning work only. Afterward, he made a statement to assembled media but did not take questions.
He spoke without notes for 35 seconds:
Knauf has been one of the few bright spots for Purdue offensively this season, with nine catches for 95 yards and another 90 yards rushing; he's scored two combined touchdowns and has 306 all-purpose yards.
Hazell says Knauf's punishment includes more than the two games on the sideline.
"He'll have some community service and will lose his tickets for those two games," Hazell said. "I know he's remorseful. He made a bad mistake, and we want to always help our community and that's the most important thing."
Woods, who has not played this season, is suspended indefinitely and was not at practice. Hazell explained the difference in punishment by saying "it's the totality of everything that happened."
According to WLFI, the two players were detained by Kohl's loss prevention officers at about 5:30 p.m. Monday after they had allegedly stolen two tie bars, valued at about $20 each. Lafayette police made the arrests and transported the two to the Tippecanoe County Jail where they posted bond and were released on Monday night.
Jordan Roos was with the first team Wednesday at right guard, replacing senior starter Trevor Foy. Foy was with the 2s.
"We'll see how that goes and evaluate the film in the next couple days and see if that helps us," Hazell said.
Devin Smith, the starting left guard, was the No. 1 at left tackle Wednesday, but Hazell said that's only to build depth at tackle, where there is no proven backup behind Kevin Pamphile. Jason King took the snaps at No. 1 left guard in Smith's place.
Hazell stressed that Purdue's problems up front aren't on one person.
"You have to understand that," he said. "There's a lot more than one thing going on and we're trying to fix them all, and that's where we're headed."
Freshmen defensive linemen Jake Replogle, Evan Panfil and Ra'Zahn Howard could see playing time the second half of the season.
The trio got some team drill reps during practice. Expected redshirts could be coming off.
"We'll make that decision in the next seven to 10 days," Hazell said.
Wide receiver Dan Monteroso got repetitions in team drills Wednesday, after participating in individuals last week.
He was still in a red pinnie, meaning no contact, but is getting closer to a return after breaking a collarbone toward the end of training camp.
"He's probably going to (get a) green light," Hazell said of the rookie. "If he can get through these next two practices without re-injury - they say he's OK to go - so we'll find out if we can take the red jersey off him next week and he'll be able to play for us."
Hazell says if Monteroso is healthy, he'll play, rather than sit for a redshirt.
"Right now, we're going full steam ahead," he said. "He has as much risk as any other guy right now."
Frankie Williams was also still in red, after missing Northern Illinois with concussion-like symptoms, but he'll play vs. Nebraska.
He'll remain sidelined Thursday and Friday, Hazell said.
In 2011, Hazell's first season at Kent State, the Flashes started 1-6 before their bye, then finished the year with wins in five of their last six.
Purdue hopes for the same kind of post-bye turn-around.
"I try not to mention that, but there are so many similarities between the beginning there and the beginning here," Hazell said. "But that allows you to see a little bit of the future, which is nice, and as long as our guys continue to work and stay together, we'll be OK."
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