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When Kyle Ingraham extended each of his considerable limbs Tuesday afternoon to make a spectacular catch of a deep ball from quarterback Curtis Painter, something didn’t quite seem right.
After the 6-foot-9 senior caught the ball and went out of bounds, there was no limp, no pained expression and no skeptical glance downward.
“Today was a really good day for me running,” Ingraham said following practice. “I had no pain. I had my full stride down, my cuts and all that. It’s nice not having to limp out of the huddle and getting a nice, easy jog and get ready for the play.”
That’s fine news for a player who’s never been quite the same after injuring his ankle in the 2004 Sun Bowl, ending a terrific sophomore year with a thud.
After catching 51 balls with seven touchdowns that season, Ingraham caught just 41 a year ago, with no scores, largely due to relentless ankle problems. Inconsistent quarterback play in ’05 didn’t help, either.
Ingraham’s had surgery on the ankle following each of the past two seasons, and may never be completely free of ankle problems.
“I kind of feel for the kid,” Coach Joe Tiller said, “but … he’s going to have to play his way through it. He’s not going to have a pain-free, smooth season. It’s going to be a challenge for him.”
Ingraham knows that, which is why he was treated delicately during training camp. He did experience some soreness, but called it minimal.
He watched much of Purdue’s preseason scrimmage work from the sideline, constantly (it seemed) iced the ankle and practiced in a brace that looks like something you’d find on your car if you didn’t pay your parking tickets.
Ingraham won’t have to play in the brace, though, he says, while carrying the dismantled contraption off the field in his helmet.
“It’s just precautionary,” he said. “There’s no need in getting hurt in practice if you don’t have to.”
Realizing the consistent, sure-handed senior knows his way around Purdue’s offense, and could benefit from rest, the Boilermaker coaching staff was fine with Ingraham sitting out portions of two-a-days.
“The coaches would be good about saying, ‘This particular series isn’t as important as Sept. 2,’” Ingraham said. “It was just a matter of caution. There’s nothing going on and I’m running the best I have since I was a sophomore.”
Ingraham knows the ankle could get stirred up and wreak havoc again at any time, but he’s not planning on it.
“Overall, if it’s not on my mind and I don’t have any pain, I don’t feel it at all,” he said. “ … It’s hard to describe the improvement this year over last year.
“Last year, I was just in so much pain, even just walking around. But that’s going to happen when you have so much work done and have so many surgeries.”
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