UNIVERSITY PARK -- There continue to be concerns in the secondary for Penn State because of inexperience, injuries and depth, but coach Bill O'Brien knows he has one potential standout among the group who can do just about anything.
O'Brien once again spoke highly Tuesday about sophomore Adrian Amos, praising his versatility.
"You can expect Amos to be in any position on defense except the defensive line," O'Brien said before practice.
Amos' versatility could be a big factor for the Nittany Lions early in the season. The 6-foot, 205-pounder is expected to be a starting cornerback, but he may have to shift over to safety in the early going because of injuries to others.
Senior safety Jake Fagnano remains limited by a hamstring injury, and it's getting close enough to the season to think he may not be able to hang onto the starting job. Junior Malcolm Willis, the other projected starting safety, has been battling a leg injury that could make him questionable for the opener against Ohio next week.
If either or both of those can't go, Amos likely would move to one of the safety spots. Senior Stephon Morris will handle one cornerback spot, and if Amos is at safety, the other cornerback could be a true freshman, Da'Quan Davis or Jordan Lucas.
O'Brien was asked about his concerns at this point and said, "Just health, just making sure we stay as healthy as we can and still have good practices. That would be probably a concern for every football team in America right now, just making sure you're not pounding them too much."
SUBHD: Backup plans
Senior Derek Day has emerged as the frontrunner to back up starting tailback Bill Belton. Day had seven carries for 27 yards last season.
Backup quarterback Paul Jones is still battling inconsistency.
"Paul needs to pick it up and do better," O'Brien said of the sophomore. "He's a great kid, I really enjoy coaching him. He's got to play more consistent, got to make better decisions."
Senior starting quarterback Matt McGloin drew more praise Tuesday from his coach.
"I feel like Matt's got a real good grasp of the operation, how it all fits together," O'Brien said.
SUBHD: O-line update
Redshirt freshman left tackle Donovan Smith has recovered from his hamstring injury and has had "an excellent two days of practice," O'Brien said.
The coach noted there's now a "very competitive" battle at the right tackle spot between junior Adam Gress and senior Mike Farrell.
O'Brien said senior center Matt Stankiewitch and senior right guard John Urschel have had strong camps and noted sophomore left guard Miles Dieffenbach is "really a much improved player from spring practice."
"I feel pretty good about the offensive line," O'Brien said.
SUBHD: Punting issues
O'Brien still has concerns about his punters, saying, "I wouldn't say I feel great about the punting situation."
The coach did point out junior Alex Butterworth has kicked better this week. He also joked, "We don't always have to punt. We can go for it."
SUBHD: He's ready
O'Brien was being asked a question about the players being excited for the season to start, and he interrupted and said, "Me too."
"I can't wait, we can't wait to play," he later added. "We're probably tired of hitting each other."