Injured RB Zwinak cleared to practice
UNIVERSITY PARK – Penn State’s running back situation is in good shape as the season approaches.
Starter Zach Zwinak has been cleared for contact drills in practice, so his left wrist does not appear to be a problem. Zwinak suffered the injury in the Blue-White Game and wore a red jersey for no contact early in training camp.
“He’s doing well. He’s ready to go,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “He took the red jersey off, I think it was last week. He had the red jersey on and he was hitting guys and the [defensive backs], they were like, ‘Coach, he has a red jersey on, so shouldn’t he have that off if he’s going to hit us?’ So we decided to take it off.”
The Nittany Lions have two options behind Zwinak in redshirt freshman Akeel Lynch and junior Bill Belton. The latter could turn out to be a major contributor after starting early last year before falling out of favor and barely playing at the end of the season.
“He’s had a good camp. I just want him to keep it going,” O’Brien said of Belton. “He’s going to play a lot of football for us this year. He’s worked hard, he’s quicker, he’s running the ball more decisively than he did last year, and he can catch the ball out of the backfield.”
O’Brien has always spoken highly of Belton, even when the running back wasn’t playing much and when he had to deal with academic issues over the summer.
“I’ve had a few heart-to-hearts with Billy,” O’Brien said. “I really think a lot of Billy. I think Billy has a bright future. I really think he’s a good kid.”
Safety Adrian Amos was wearing a red no-contact jersey Tuesday as he’s dealing with hamstring and ankle problems.
“He’s fine,” O’Brien said. “We’re just trying to limit the contact there.”
Receiver Allen Robinson also has been dealing with a hamstring injury, but O’Brien said it’s not a big deal. The coach knows he can’t push his best players too hard in training camp, so he has picked spots to give them rest at times.
Right offensive tackle Adam Gress has been dealing with a knee issue but is still considered the frontrunner to start against Syracuse. If he can’t go, converted tight end Garry Gilliam likely would step in.
Linebacker Ben Kline continues to deal with what O’Brien called a “shoulder deal.” He’s also doing limited contact work.
Tight end Brent Wilkerson underwent back surgery and is out “for a while,” O’Brien said before adding the surgery “went well.”
News and notes
n The Lions started working on Syracuse prep Tuesday.
n O’Brien had this intriguing comment about his team overall: “We’re a totally different team than we were last year. We’re doing a lot of different things. We’re very, very different.”
n One more item on the quarterback competition between Christian Hackenberg and Tyler Ferguson: “I’ve never had more fun coaching quarterbacks than I’ve had coaching these two guys,” O’Brien said. “They’re bright guys. They work at it, they compete in practice, they’ve got good demeanors, they’ve got good huddle command. I’ve had a lot of fun coaching both of these guys.”