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April 7, 2010Wednesday was Purdue's first spring practice since Friday, after Coach Danny Hope opted to postpone two practices until the end of spring, as injuries have hit the Boilermakers hard of late.
Though most of those idled this spring are so because of pre-existing issues, a handful of new losses have occurred on the practice field, none of greater magnitude than the knee injury to running back Ralph Bolden, announced Wednesday morning to be a torn anterior cruciate ligament, the junior's second such injury, in the same knee, in the span of about three-and-a-half years.
Bolden will undergo surgery. His status for the 2010 season remains to be seen.
"He could be ready by the season, but we'll have to wait and see," Hope said of his near-thousand-yard rusher. "It's one of those things that'll come right down to the wire.
"The long-term prognosis is he could be ready for the season, but there's a lot of time, a lot of work to be done."
Bolden does have a redshirt year available should it be needed.
"That's a real blessing right now in case he's not ready," Hope said.
With the potential of Bolden being redshirted in the fall, Hope said he might look for a junior college running back to add late, hoping for some immediate help. He's also in the market, he said, for J.C. help in the secondary, should he and his staff come across any.
Right now, however, it's a former junior college transfer Purdue's looking to for help.
Wide receiver Keith Carlos was moved to running back Friday.
It's nothing new to the senior, who played running back in junior college and through much of his career prior and was actually expecting the move in some form before Bolden was injured.
"I played a couple games there in junior college," Carlos said. "Basically, that's where I played in Pee Wee and high school. I'm really comfortable in that position.
"I knew the move was going to come; I just didn't know it would come this soon, as far as what happened (to Bolden). That was tragic. But good thing (the move) came. I was waiting for it."
Carlos said he'd been talked to about playing running back for "certain plays," but not necessarily moving full-time as he apparently has been.
Hope said that Carlos' first scrimmage at running back was a big one.
According to stats kept Wednesday, ran for 90 yards on 11 carries, with one score. Carlos also caught a 55-yard pass.
"He's a lot more natural as a running back than he is a receiver," Hope said, adding that Carlos still has to improve ball security. "He's very fast. ... His speed really showed up (today)."
He, sophomore Al-Terek McBurse - the presumed No. 1 in Bolden's place - and senior Dan Dierking now get the carries in Purdue's backfield, with fullback Jared Crank factoring in, too, Hope said.
Purdue ran a scrimmage of upwards of 150 snaps Wednesday, mostly with first teams vs. first teams and second teams vs. second teams, Hope said, dividing quarterback snaps fairly evenly among Robert Marve, Caleb TerBush and Rob Henry.
"We've come a long way from a year ago throwing and catching," Hope said. "We have some quarterbacks who are talented and have gotten a lot better and they're throwing to talented receivers who've gotten a lot better. That part of it is very exciting."
Among statistical standouts during the scrimmage was Marve, who completed 23-of-31 passes for 272 yards and four touchdowns, with no interceptions, according to stats kept by Purdue sports information personnel.
McBurse ran for 100 yards on 10 carries, with two touchdowns.
Redshirt freshman Gary Bush led receivers with seven catches for 89 yards and two TDs.
"Defensively," Hope said, "we didn't practice as well as we had during the first part of spring. We've had a handful of scrimmages and this was the first one the offense has won. We didn't turn the ball over any on offense. The ball was on the ground some, but the defense didn't get it.
"We didn't play with near the energy we needed to on the defensive side."
Hope said it's a "long shot" that offensive lineman Eric Hedstrom will get to return for the Boilermakers, though he has pursued a sixth year of eligibility.
Hedstrom, according to Hope, has not been medically cleared to play yet following a series of injuries.
Hope is pleased with the play of his senior tight ends so far this spring.
"Our tight ends are playing very well right now," Hope said. "I'm very excited about Jeff Lindsay and Kyle Adams. They're much improved from where they were at this point last year."
Not that receiving numbers tell the whole story at their position, but Lindsay and Adams combined to catch five balls in the scrimmage, while classmate Jeff Panfil scored a touchdown.
True freshman linebacker Will Lucas has made a solid first impression after enrolling early.
"He makes a lot of plays," Hope said. "He's very physical and he may be our fastest linebacker. And he looks like he can help us win possibly this season coming up.
"He's a very pleasant surprise and he's getting some great reps out there."
The linebacker corps this spring is more or less without senior Jason Werner and sophomore Antwon Higgs, according more opportunities for Lucas and other young players.
Hope said again he feels like junior Chris Carlino is "more natural" as an outside linebacker than he is in his previous spot in the middle.
Hope called middle linebacker Dwayne Beckford "one of our most improved players."
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