James Aldridge’s Debut Will Have to Wait Another Week, At Least

Notre Dame, IN (UHND.com) – While highly touted freshman running back James Aldridge was cleared to play medically, head coach Charlie Weis decided against using the talented back this weekend against Purdue and hinted that didn’t give a definitive answer as to when he will see the field.

Other than offensive tackle Sam Young, Aldridge was probably the most highly anticipated recruit landed by Weis and company last year.  When the Merriville High School product enrolled early expectations were high, but injuries have slowed him since arriving in January.

Coming off a knee injury, Saturday’s weather conditions which included off and on raining in the second half weren’t exactly accommodating for Aldridge’s debut.  Weis, however, said he was leery of putting Aldridge in the game in the fourth because Purdue was focused on stopping the run.

“James might have been a good person to work on that end of the game stuff, it might have been a good time, but I’m just envisioning, here’s a guy just coming off a knee, they got a 1800 guys up on the line of scrimmage and I’m going to go ahead and get his head ripped off on the first couple carries,” said Weis.

Weis would later add that, “James is just coming back. You got to earn your stripes at this place. We don’t hand anything to anyone. When he earns his stripes, he’ll be out there. I don’t believe in giving anyone anything.”

Despite being medically cleared to play and dressing for the game, Aldridge was still being held out of contact drills this week and its likely Weis may want to see how he handles those drills before putting him in a game.

Aldridge’s debut is one of the more highly anticipated for an Irish recruit in a while based on the accolades he brought with him out of high school.  With Notre Dame lacing depth at the running back position, his debut could potentially add another back capable of giving Darius Walker a couple series off.

So far this year, Walker has been worked pretty heavily making creating depth at the running back position one of the more important tasks facing the Irish as they drive for a BCS bid.

Thomas, Grimes, Renkes Held Out Saturday
Travis Thomas got hurt on the last play of the Michigan State game and was held out this weekend.  Thomas had an MRI earlier in the week that came back negative, but his ribs weren’t healed enough to make it a go this week.  Senior Joe Brockington started in his place and performed fairly well despite dropping a “gimme’ interception.

Grimes, who missed the Michigan State game, was held out again this week after letting Weis know before kickoff he wouldn’t be able be “full go” despite wanting to play.  Weis left the decision of whether or not he would play up to his receiver.  “I told him that I would go with him, that he deserves to be the number three receiver and the lead kickoff returner, I said, but you got to be honest with me,” said Weis.  Weis would add that Grimes told him, “I want to play but I can’t go full go. So we flip flopped based off of that.”

Bobby Renkes, meanwhile, got banged up last week and as a result Ryan Burkhart made his debut on kickoffs.  Renkes’s injury didn’t seem too serious according to Weis.

Morton injured during game
Fifth year senior offensive lineman Bob Morton was injured during the second half of the  game, but his injuries don’t appear to be serious.  Weis said Morton could have most likely gone back in if needed, but with the game in control, Brian Mattes filled in for the rest of the game.

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