UNIVERSITY PARK - It was classic JoePa, a statement showing his wit remains despite lingering health concerns.
"I have one request," Joe Paterno said Thursday at Penn State's media day. "Please don't ask me if I'm going to die tomorrow."
More than 100 statewide media members - most of whom haven't seen Paterno all summer because of his intestinal problems - erupted with laughter.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Joe Paterno kids around with Graham Zug (5) and Evan Royster (22) before the team photo is snapped Thursday.
"Believe me," JoePa said, "I've got a few more days left."
Then he made it clear he didn't want a repeat of what took place in Chicago during Big Ten media days, when at least 80 percent of the questions centered around his health. The first one he faced there had to do with whether or not he would coach until the day he died.
Thursday's media session was much different.
"OK, let's talk football," Paterno said.
He did just that for most of a 35-minute news conference, answering questions about his quarterback competition, offensive line issues, injuries, academics and his Thursday night radio show.
On the latter, it will come as disappointing news to the Thursday "Nittany Lion Hotline" listeners that Paterno no longer plans to be part of the call-in show.
"The Thursday night show is a tough show for me because of the fact I've got to come right off the field and go into that radio show," he said. "That's always been a problem for me because of the fact that I go in there and ... if we have a lousy practice and somebody wants to ask me, I feel like telling them, 'Go jump in the lake.'"
The radio show will continue with other coaches and players fielding calls.
Paterno also was asked if he will continue to appear at the Wednesday Quarterback Club luncheon and said he will, but perhaps not every week.
He again showed his quick wit when he said the Quarterback Club event draws a lot of female fans, and he said, "I'm sure it's because of my looks."
The 83-year-old coach did admit, when asked about how his assistant coaches, that, "Yeah, they probably are carrying me."
Cornerback Stephon Morris suffered a neck injury and was taken by ambulance to the hospital Monday after a collision. Concerned about his neck, paramedics did not remove Morris' helmet until after he had gone through X-rays at the hospital.
"I'm going to be fine," Morris said. "I'll be ready."
He hasn't practiced since Monday but added, "If it was up to me, I'd be out there now."
Morris was filling a gap trying to make a tackle on running back Curtis Dukes and said a lineman hit him. He had his head down instead of up, which can lead to serious injuries.
"That's a lesson I knew since I was 6 years old to always keep your head up," Morris said.
Morris noted it was scary at the time but "not no more" because he feels fine.
Paterno said about five players have had concussions so far in camp, and while no one would disclose all the names, it was learned that linebacker Bani Gbadyu and defensive lineman Jordan Hill were two of them.
"I'm feeling real good," Gbadyu said. "I did have a little problem, but I think we addressed it and I'm ready to come back."
Safety Drew Astorino declared himself 100 percent after undergoing surgery on his left shoulder in January and sitting out of spring drills.
"It feels great," Astorino said.
Astorino tore his labrum in preseason camp last year but played through the pain during the season.
"Sitting out spring practice just killed me ... so I was looking extremely forward to this camp," he said.
Powell staying put
Chaz Powell will remain at cornerback for the time being rather than move back to wide receiver after Curtis Drake's broken leg Monday.
"I'm having fun," Powell said. "I'm liking the fact that I can come up and hit them. I played receiver last year, I can also catch the ball. But now I'm going to come up and hit you in the mouth and let you know that this is my job now."
Powell said he suggested to the coaches after last season about switching to defense, knowing the team had several promising young receivers.
Joe doesn't know
It's still too early in camp for Paterno to know who will be leading the offense.
"I really don't know who's going to be the quarterback," he said.
Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and firstname.lastname@example.org.