Brian Kelly addressed the media on Monday in advance of this weekend’s matchup with New Mexico. As always, injuries were a hot topic. Today, however, they took up quite a bit of the agenda with Notre Dame suffering through a lot of bumps and bruises early in the season. Here’s a quick review of all Kelly offered on the injury front today.
Cole Kmet is “Day to Day”
Of the three offensive starters that ended the 2019 season opener on the sidelines, the closest to coming back is junior tight end Cole Kmet. Kelly let open the window of a Kmet return this weekend. “Yeah. Is he healed to the point that he could be? Yes. That will be a decision that we make within the program as to whether we choose to do that,” Kelly said.
In terms of how he has progressed over the last few weeks, Kelly mentioned that Kmet saw work in practice last week already. “He was involved in practice last week, 7 on 7 drills, some teamwork,” Kelly told reporters.
Kelly was not ready to announce a definite return date for the tight end though. “We’ll make a decision, you know, at what level we want to engage him this week, but his x-rays looked really good, significant growth relative to his injury,” Kelly revealed. “That’s going to be a day to day situation as to how we see how far we want to accelerate him. He’s been cleared to do quite a bit of the football-related work within the practice.”
Michael Young is still a week behind Cole Kmet
While it sounds like Kmet is progressing very well and could be back as soon as this weekend, the news on Michael Young wasn’t as promising. “Good healing. He’s about a week behind Cole,” said Kelly. “You know, we’re at that point where you’re looking at, I don’t know want to get too technical here, but you’re looking for problems like non-healing, and we don’t have that with him which is a good sign,” he added.
That’s not a bad update, but it’s also not a “we should see him soon” update either. Getting Young back for the Georgia game would be a big boost for the Notre Dame passing attack. As of now, that still sounds like it is questionable.
Jafar Armstrong is out for a “few weeks.”
Last week reports surfaced that Jafar Armstrong would be out for 5-8 weeks. Monday was the first time that Kelly addressed the media since those reports, but he was not about to confirm or deny them on Monday. “Certainly we’ll be without him for a few weeks,” he said before leaving the door open ever so slightly.
“You know, that’s an injury that again I think requires some time, but to put an exact time on it; it’s hard to say. Julian Okwara did not have surgery but had some similarities in terms of the injury. He was about four weeks,” explained Kelly.
Kelly did go into further detail on the exact injury that Armstrong is dealing with at least. “He tore the rectus abdominis,” Kelly said. “That was reattached. Dr. Folstein did it locally. He’s been outstanding in the work that he’s done for us, and we feel very confident that the recovery will be full and we’ll get him back as quickly as possible.”
Jahmir Smith has a sprained toe is sounds questionable
“Jahmir has a sprained toe, but he we’ll see how he goes this week,” Kelly said today. “He’s going to practice this week. We’ll see what he’s like this week.” That isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement, and in Kelly/coach-speak that sure makes it sound like Smith could be joining Armstrong on the sidelines.
Avery Davis working at running back with injuries
With all of the injuries to Notre Dame running backs, Brian Kelly told reporters today that quarterback turned running back turned cornerback Avery Davis moved back to running back. Davis was recruited to Notre Dame as a quarterback before moving to running back/slot receiver last year. After an uneventful 2018 campaign, he moved to corner in the spring where he hasn’t crack the depth chart yet.
“We moved Avery Davis back over to the offensive side of the ball to give us another complement to that piece,” said Kelly. “You know, Avery again can catch the football for us has the ability to do those things that Jafar did. He gives us another piece at that position that we think can fill in nicely.”
Kelly made a point, however, to note that Davis’s move back to running back was meant more to compliment the loss of Armstrong, not Smith since Davis’s skillset more closely resembles Armstrong’s.
Shaun Crawford good physically after return from injury
One player who was making a return from a major injury last week was 5th-year senior corner, Shaun Crawford. The diminutive defensive back has suffered three significant injuries during his time at Notre Dame. His first week of action doesn’t sound like it had any negative impact on him.
“Physically he came out outstanding,” Kelly said confidently. “I think mentally is where he feels really good. He did a lot of really good things for us at corner and at safety. Moving forward, he continues to, you know, obviously get back to where he was after a year of fighting through the injuries. So an important piece to what we’re doing in the back end of our defense.”
A healthy Crawford, combined with Kyle Hamilton, gives Notre Dame a lot of flexibility in nickel packages this year. Hopefully, Crawford can avoid the injury bug this year as he did in 2017.