UNIVERSITY PARK - There was a running joke around the Penn State football office on how long Joe Paterno would let the media watch Thursday afternoon's practice, likely the only open session of the spring.
"Twenty minutes," defensive coordinator Tom Bradley predicted to the assembled throng outside the Lasch Building.
"Are you ready to enjoy your 12 minutes?" offensive coordinator Galen Hall quietly asked, smiling.
Turns out Paterno was in a generous mood: He rationed a full half hour before the 30-plus reporters on hand were thanked and shown the exit by right-hand man Tommy Venturino.
Truth be told, at least for the media's eyes, there wasn't much revealed. Paterno said it's too early to make many assessments.
"We've had one day in pads," he said. "I think [having] this press conference is ridiculous."
JoePa said there's "no timetable" for selecting a starting quarterback, a theme that likely will last until a few days before the Nittany Lions open their season by hosting Youngstown State Sept. 4.
He said he's been paying particular attention to how sophomore quarterback Kevin Newsome "handles the huddle," and believes "he's making progress."
He said he hasn't seen enough to judge incoming freshman Paul Jones, who enrolled in January, adding, "in three practices, I've probably seen him throw eight passes."
"Paul's obviously a good athlete, but it's tough to walk into a situation as a freshman and have to play the teams we do - especially on the road [Alabama, Ohio State, Iowa]," JoePa said. "I don't even want to think about going to Tuscaloosa [Sept. 11] with a freshman."
He said former walk-on Matt McGloin "is a good, solid, smart kid who handles the huddle well."
He said wide receiver Brett Brackett, a converted quarterback, has not worked at quarterback yet. Paterno mentioned that possibility after the Lions' win over LSU in the Capital One Bowl.
If Brackett moves, it would be part of a pattern as JoePa admitted "we'll probably change [the positions of] 15 guys."
He thinks spring practice is designed for that - "a good time to work with kids who are step away from being good."
One might be Chaz Powell, a running back-receiver who is now in the secondary, perhaps to start at safety.
Paterno said the team is looking for its "five best offensive lineman," and that process may result in switching center Stefen Wisniewski back to guard, where he played in 2008.
JoePa said returning tailback Evan Royster won't get much work this spring.
He thinks the linebackers, though three starters graduated, will be solid with Nate Stupar, Bani Gbadyu and Michael Mauti, though the latter is coming off knee surgery and won't have much contact this spring.
He's confident in returning placekicker Colin Wagner but said the punting job is totally up for grabs following the graduation of Jeremy Boone. Paterno said improving the punt coverage will be a "high priority."
Notes: Players were not made available for interviews ... Paterno confirmed safety Drew Astorino (shoulder surgery) and tailback Brandon Beachum (knee) out for spring drills ... He said defensive tackle Brandon Ware has shaved some weight but now needs to focus on improving his grades ... Upperclassmen Brent Carter and Tom McEowen have given up football ... The Lions have now had four of their 15 spring practices allowed by NCAA rules ... JoePa has given the team Easter weekend off ... The Blue-White game is Saturday, April 24. Kickoff is 2 p.m., and ESPN2 will televise.