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August 8, 2013

Hazell managing injuries; Day 6 notes

When Darrell Hazell turned his head toward the sideline late in Thursday's afternoon practice, he saw all of the exercise bikes occupied.

And with important players.

Projected starters Dolapo Macarthy, Landon Feichter and Justin Kitchens all put red on to get some conditioning work in while the rest of Purdue was wrapping up its first two-a-day of training camp. They joined Bilal Marshall and Ra'Zahn Howard on the sidelines.

It's the most bodies on the bikes in one practice so far this camp, which hit Day 6.

"I think we had four or five on the bikes, which is not good. This is not a bicycling team," Hazell said.

Perhaps the most important injury of note, though, wasn't even in the building.

After participating in the morning practice, projected starting middle linebacker Joe Gilliam was absent for the afternoon session. He was in Indianapolis having a finger injury "fixed," Hazell said.

Gilliam injured the finger weeks ago and it progressively has gotten worse, Hazell said. Hazel gave no timetable for Gilliam's injury - or specifically what it was - except to say "hopefully it's not too severe and we'll get him back pretty quickly."

That meant redshirt freshman Jimmy Herman was working with the first unit in the middle.

"We're trying to find out who those next couple guys are," Hazell said of the linebackers. "Joe has been very solid for the first six practices. We need to create some depth there, so Jimmy will be in the spot. We'll find somebody."

The rest of the bicyclists were mostly precautionary.

Kitchens has some shoulder issues, so Hazell wanted to hold him back a bit in both practices on Thursday. Redshirt freshman J.J. Prince moved into Kitchens' tackle spot with the first team, sliding alongside classmate Jordan Roos on the right side.

Marshall has been limited for days with a hip flexor sprain.

Howard, the big freshman defensive tackle, has been slowed by seemingly various ailments thus far in camp.

Macarthy is coming off surgery to repair damage to the articular cartilage in his left knee and has been limited at points already in camp. But he is adamant to say it's just as a precaution.

"I'm playing pain-free. I feel great," Macarthy said. " Doctor (K. Donald) Shelbourne did a great job. I'm really happy that I got it done in the time frame I did, right after the spring. I'm just taking cautious measures each day, making sure I don't overdo it so I don't have to take any steps back. Every day I'm getting quality reps with the plan that we set out for me. So it's been great."

Hazell said planning camp and figuring out which practices would have pads and which would be in shorts is important to keep players fresh and on the field.

"The big thing is you've got to get your A players to the game," said Hazell, whose team was in full pads in the morning and shoulder pads and shorts in the afternoon. "You've got to gauge when they need to be pulled back and when you need to go hard with them."

QB talk
For the first time this camp, Austin Appleby got some snaps with the No. 1 offense and worked extensively with the second team. Appleby has spent the majority of camp getting snaps behind the No. 2 or No. 3 line.

Rob Henry continued to get the first snap, though, with the first unit.

Henry, Appleby and Danny Etling got some first-team snaps in the afternoon.

"Like I said before, it's a three-way battle, and I meant that when I said it," Hazell said. "We evaluate the film day-in and day-out and (Appleby) deserved some of those reps. He's taking care of the ball, and he's made some accurate throws for us here in the last couple practices. He's continually getting better."

Etling struggled in the morning, especially, completing passes in 7-on-7 and team work. He also threw an interception.

After the afternoon practice, he insisted he isn't worried about the depth chart, though, and has been getting positive feedback from the coaches and teammates.

"I have to get back in the swing of things and see where I go from there. It's my first camp. I'm trying to get it down," Etling said. "My teammates are helping me a great deal, and I'm learning a lot."

Macarthy, for one, said he can't tell the difference between each QB when he's getting snaps.

"It's going to be interesting to see who they choose," Macarthy said. "It's going to be really tough, though. I'm glad it's not up to me."

Hazell impressed
After the seventh practice and first two-a-day of camp, Hazell said he likes the growth he is seeing from the Boilermakers.

"(Thursday) was a good work day, two hard practices, got a lot of work done, a lot of situational football. The guys are starting to understand the tempo that it takes to play at," he said. "I'm really excited about where they are right now and how hard they're working and how much they're growing together, so it's been fun."

Making a move?
Cornerback Frankie Williams picked Macarthy, B.J. Knauf and Cameron Posey as receivers who have stood out so far this camp.

Macarthy and Knauf have been working with the starters, but Posey largely has been stuck in the third group. Perhaps that will change, though.

When asked specifically about Posey, Hazell said that the coaches discussed him in Thursday's noon meeting and want to try to get him more reps.

Quiet time was spent on the "A Players" section of the manual - "nobody is allowed to underachieve," Hazell said - on Monday.

Receivers coach Kevin Sherman has emerged as one of the most vocal coaches on the staff this fall, a development from the spring. There's a reason for it.

"We need to hold each other accountable, something we didn't do in the spring, and that's what I'm starting to do this camp, is hold all of them accountable," he said. "We have to keep developing."

Antoine Lewis had another interception Thursday, and he could be in a battle with Normondo Harris for the nickel spot.

"He's a ballhog," Williams said. "That's what we need."

Camp life isn't easy, but Macarthy said it does offer a unique chance for some team bonding with all the players stuck in dorms for 12 days.

"We're hanging out, having a great time," he said. "That bond that we build away from football helps when we step on the field. When we're in the dorms, we're playing NCAA, we're having Bible study, we're at dinner, just having a good time laughing. These are lasting memories. It's really an enjoyment."

Copyright, Boilers, Inc. 2013. All Rights Reserved. Reproducing or using editorial or graphical content, in whole or in part, without permission, is strictly prohibited. E-mail GoldandBlack.com/Boilers, Inc.

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