Coach Danny Hope and players Joey Elliott and Joe Holland spoke at Purdue's weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon as the Boilermakers prepare to host Notre Dame this weekend.
Below is a notebook of what the coach and players had to say.
King should be back
After missing the past two games with a bruised hip, starting cornerback Brandon King should return to the field Saturday against the Irish.
"As long as nothing happens again in practice (he'll be back)," Hope said. "That's always a concern when someone comes back on an injury, to keep him healthy all the way 'til game time. But it's very important to us."
King's return would allow Purdue to move safety Torri Williams back to his primary position, after he's been filling in at corner the past two weeks.
"(Getting King back) allows us to get back to some continuity back there in the back half of the defense," Hope said. "That's very critical at that position on the football team. The offensive line and the secondary are probably two of the most critical spots on the football team in regards to continuity. That would help us a bunch."
Holland, Purdue's starting weak-side linebacker, is looking forward to King's return.
"He's a sure tackler and a physical player," Holland said. "That'll really help us as a defense."
In other injury news, it appears as if tight end Jeff Panfil is the lost for the long haul after sustaining a neck/shoulder injury - described initially as a "stinger" - at Oregon in Week 2.
"He might be able to come back to play this season," Hope said. "He won't be back this week or next week. It's going to be a little bit. It's not as bad as we thought it was. I don't anticipate him being back here in the next couple of weeks."
Running back Ralph Bolden is "fine," Hope said, after missing some practice last week after "something flared up."
No word on Reckman
Hope said Purdue hasn't heard from the Big Ten office about offensive lineman Zach Reckman's late hit on the final play of the Northern Illinois game.
After NIU recovered Purdue's final lateral, ending the game, Reckman dove late on the player who made the recovery, appearing to cock his forearm to deliver a deliberate blow to the downed player, who'd slid to the ground to end the game. Reckman was flagged for a late hit.
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez has publicly lobbied to follow the "precedent" he thinks the league set by suspending Wolverine Jonas Mouton, who punched a Notre Dame player.
"That's obviously something that everyone's aware of," Hope said. "We'll wait to see where it goes. I haven't heard from the Big Ten."
Valentin back to No. 1
After a bizarre game in which he scored on a punt return, then fumbled the next two, Aaron Valentin will reclaim his place as the Boilermakers' No. 1 punt return man in practice Tuesday, Hope said.
Waynelle Gravesande replaced Valentin against Northern Illinois following the second fumble and Hope said after the game there'd be "open competition" for the position in practice this week.
Not that it matters much now ...
Tight end Gabe Holmes has finally been cleared for freshman eligibility, Hope said, roughly two months after he was to have reported to campus for training camp.
It's too late for him to be part of the Boilermaker team in 2009, however.
Holmes is set to enroll mid-year and be a freshman in 2010. He will arrive in the winter and go on scholarship for the spring semester, participate in spring ball and essentially have a potential five-and-a-half-year career.
When asked if it was frustrating to have to wait for a ruling as long as he did, Hope said, "No. I don't get frustrated about that."
Whether Holmes could have contributed this season can't be known, but as it stands right now, Purdue has just two healthy scholarship tight ends in juniors Kyle Adams and Jeff Lindsay.
Sophomore Colton McKey is out indefinitely while still recovering from last year's knee injury; Panfil is out for the foreseeable future.
Don't forget Taylor
Running back Jaycen Taylor got only two carries against Northern Illinois, but there were reasons for that.
For one thing, Hope said, Purdue didn't have the ball much, obviously, as the Boilermakers ran only 56 offensive plays and only had the ball for less than 18-and-a-half minutes.
"He figures into the game plan and he's one of our playmakers on offense," Hope said. "He did a great job on special teams. He really did. I always heard about Jaycen Taylor is a great special teams player. He's played some running back for us and played on special teams.
"But he took it to another gear on Saturday. He was really a special special teams player on Saturday and really wanted to win. But we didn't have the ball very much, and (his carries were) a result of that."
Elliott said that Taylor exited the Northern Illinois game with a rib injury and indicated during the game to Bolden that he'd rather see the healthy back out there.
After the disappointing loss to the Huskies, Purdue's Sunday practice was energetic, players said.
Elliott said practice was "up-beat" and said Hope told his players to take it as a "wake-up call."
"We're not that type of team," Elliott said, referring to the possibility of Saturday's disappointments adversely impacting games to come. "I don't think we have that kind of team or coaching staff."
Holland thinks players re-gained their focus quickly.
"You could tell everyone was pretty upset with how the game went, pretty disappointed," Holland said, "but we came out Sunday and I think it struck everybody pretty quickly that it's Notre Dame week. ... You shouldn't have any trouble getting up for practice."
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