Brian Kelly met with the media for the first time for fall camp 2017 on Monday. He touched on a wide array of topics that we will get into much more detail on, but one of the most important topics of the day was injuries. Kelly updated the health status of several players as the Irish are set to start camp this week.
Kelly Confirms Daniel Cage Sitting out 2017 At Least
It was reported a couple weeks ago that Daniel Cage would be sitting out 2017 and possibly retire following numerous concussions over his first three years. Kelly confirmed that on Monday. “Daniel will not play for us this year,” Kelly said. “He’s had a couple of medical conditions that, one, I think we all know publicly that he’s had a couple of concussions, and he has a knee, so he’s going to step away this year. Will not play for us.”
There remains the possibility that Cage returns in 2018 for a 5th year but that is anything but certain. Kelly did say though that he will, “reevaluate the situation at the end of the year.”
With Cage out, Notre Dame’s thin depth chart along the interior of the defensive line got even thinner. That made the news about Elijah Taylor all the more discouraging.
Elijah Taylor Not 100%
When Elijah Taylor suffered a lisfranc injury in spring practice, Brian Kelly offered up a very optimistic timeline for his return. Then there were reports that his return was behind schedule. Kelly confirmed as much on Monday. “Elijah straight line, I think he’s probably ten days to two weeks, and I think he’ll be able to do everything for us,” Kelly said. “Fully linear, excellent, great strength, side-to-side, probably not there yet. But moving towards that. I think it’s probably going to require him some camp work to get that side-to-side movement.”
This should not be too surprising though. Lisfranc injuries are notoriously tough for big men like Taylor to overcome. Jarron Jones suffered one a few years ago and he has said that the lisfranc injury was tougher to get over than his MCL injury in fall camp 2015. Notre Dame could really use Taylor this fall too. Even before the Cage news the injury to Taylor was a blog since he had really begun to flash at the end of 2016.
With two years of eligibility remaining, Notre Dame can still get a lot of really good football out of Taylor. Hopefully he is able to help the Irish this fall because they will need him.
Shaun Crawford Full Go
Ok, now onto some good news. Shaun Crawford is fully cleared after playing in the spring without contact. “Shaun Crawford, fully cleared, doing everything,” Kelly said. That said, the staff will remain cautious with their playmaking corner.
“Coming off an achilles, we’ll be smart. We’ll rely on Shaun, who is extremely locked in on how he feels, and a little bit of science and GPS and probably put some restraints on him, but he’s doing great in everything.”
Greg previewed what Notre Dame can expect from a healthy Shaun Crawford back in the spring, but suffice to say having a healthy Crawford i a huge boost for the secondary. The loss of Crawford in 2016 often gets overlooked amid the mess that was the Irish defense. In very limited playing time he has shown a knack for making plays and being a ball hawk. If Notre Dame can keep him on the field he will have a big impact this fall.
And some more good news. Junior Justin Yoon sat out the spring with an injury, but Kelly was optimistic about his place kicker. “Physically, outstanding summer. Healthy, was able to do all the things that we wanted him to do,” Kelly said of Yoon’s health. “If Coach Balis was here right now, he would tell you he was happy with the progress that he made even in the weight room in terms of his strength development. All of the things that we had put markers on him, he exceeded all of those.”
Like Crawford, Notre Dame needs a healthy Justin Yoon. The potentially potent weapon took a step back in 2016 after a dynamite freshman campaign in 2015. As a frosh Yoon hit on 15 of 17 field goals two years ago but connected on just 13 of 17 as a sophomore last fall. His longest make of the entire season was just 40 yards. This after hitting on a 52 yarder against Navy in 2015.