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Mustakas happy he's healthy

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Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2009

Pitt nose tackle Gus Mustakas had a season-high four tackles (one for a loss) and a fumble recovery against Navy last season, but he revealed Tuesday that his left knee was never fully healthy.

"My knee kept swelling up, and I was getting it drained every Thursday, just to be able to play," Mustakas said. "It was a terrible situation. I could only play about 20-30 plays. It felt good actually to start making plays and it gave me some motivation that I can do this, that my knee is fine."

Mustakas said the knee required microfracture surgery, which involved drilling three holes in the kneecap to clear scar tissue after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament. He spent two months on crutches.

"My right calf is so much bigger than my left calf now," Mustakas said, "from hopping around."

Coaches to ease Fields into starting role

The only game redshirt junior safety Elijah Fields didn't play in last season was against Navy, but secondary coach Jeff Hafley said the Panthers have simplified their defensive scheme and isn't worried about whether Fields will have difficulty understanding his assignments.

"We have not made it complex. We have not made it confusing," Hafley said. "We will teach him what he needs to do, and I am confident that he will execute the game plan."

Fields will replace Andrew Taglianetti, who is out for the season with a knee injury, as the starting free safety.

Panthers in select company

Pitt is one of 12 teams nationally that hasn't allowed a sack and one of only seven to accomplish that feat through two games.

That doesn't surprise senior left guard Joe Thomas, who credits offensive line coach Tony Wise and a veteran line that has four returning starters.

"We're meshing real well," Thomas said. "Everybody is stepping up and doing what they're supposed to do. We've got a lot of experienced guys on the line. This is what we expect."

Scouts eye Dickerson

Eight NFL scouts visited Pitt yesterday.

The object of their interest was senior tight end Dorin Dickerson, who has 12 receptions for 97 yards and four touchdowns in the first two games.

Former Pitt quarterback Tyler Palko, cut by the Arizona Cardinals late last month, also attended practice.

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