Physical toll mounts for Pitt football
Almost daily, another forlorn, pained or anxious player takes a seat on the trainer's table behind the sideline at Pitt football practice.
Some end up with an arm in a sling. Others show up the next day wearing a knee brace. Several spend as much time with the trainers as they do their position coaches.
One day, an unofficial count revealed 20 players missing either a few plays or the entire session. Third-string middle linebacker Dan Mason has been playing on the first team with projected starter Shane Gordon and backup Joe Trebitz out. Redshirt freshman Jason Frimpong has joined the first unit at outside linebacker while Todd Thomas and Eric Williams deal with injuries. Even freshman Deaysean Rippy had a brief venture as a starting linebacker.
Coach Paul Chryst, who will put the team through a fully padded scrimmage Saturday to end two weeks of drills, speaks about injuries reluctantly and only in vague terms.
Most players, with the exception of Thomas, who had knee surgery in January and whose absence doesn't figure to end soon, are “day-to-day,” Chryst said. That means they might return the next day — or they might not.
Senior safety Andrew Taglianetti isn't surprised by the heavy traffic in the trainer's room.
“Everyone should be hurting at this point in camp,” he said. “You just have to find it within yourself to determine if you can keep practicing or not. You just have to keep pushing through. Coach Chryst is going to go find those guys who want to do that.”
Chryst is not easy on his players, and he seems to be testing them to identify certain types of athletes. Players are given ample rest and water breaks, but sessions can last three hours, the duration of many games.
“This is probably, physically-wise, one of the toughest camps I've ever been through,” said Taglianetti, who has been through five. “Even through (coach Dave) Wannstedt. Compared to last year, physically, it is way more demanding. It's draining, but guys are starting to get a feel for it now. Would I (want) them to be shorter? Of course, but it's definitely going to pay off.”
The unavoidable downside to the injuries is lost practice time, a fact that becomes critical with the opener two weeks away. Quarterback Tino Sunseri spent most of this week without veteran receivers Mike Shanahan (hamstring) and Devin Street (knee), a situation that could slow development in the passing game.
If Chryst is worried, he doesn't show it.
“Truthfully, (trainer Rob Blanc) comes over and tells me, and you focus on the guys between the lines,” Chryst said. “It's not that you don't care about the guys who are injured, but you have to trust that they're going to do everything they can to get themselves back.”
He also won't force injured players back on the field.
“It doesn't do anybody any good if they are going before they are ready,” he said.
NOTES: Running back Ray Graham (knee) missed practice Friday for the third day in a row. “We are just trying to make sure we are not setting him back,” Chryst said. ... Men's basketball coach Jamie Dixon spoke to the players after practice and received two ovations.
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7997.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pitt’s Boyd, Blair suspended for Youngstown State game
- As college football training camps open, defenses fall under microscope
- Preseason honors piling up for former Pitt tackle Bisnowaty
- Pitt, McConnell-Serio agree to new contract through 2020-21 season
- New football coach Narduzzi is learning, along with Pitt players