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Irish Insights

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Personnel issues

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly provided updates on some injured players after Wednesday's practice.

Linebacker Danny Spond, who has missed the last three games with a hamstring injury, will be available when the Irish (3-2) play host to Air Force (3-1) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

"He's good. He's cleared," Kelly said. "He'll be on all of our run teams, and he is in a backup position at the drop."

Receiver Daniel Smith, who is also battling a hamstring injury, is closer to returning, but he will not be available until the home game against USC on Oct. 22.

"He's making great progress," Kelly said. "He was out there today, but limited. He's got individual work done. He's making progress. I would say after the bye week, he'll be full go."

Kelly said Notre Dame has lost two players to shoulder injuries for the rest of the season. Offensive lineman Tate Nichols had surgery Friday, and linebacker Anthony Rabasa is scheduled to have shoulder surgery soon.

"We want to get these guys 100 percent for spring ball," Kelly said. "They both had sublexing shoulders that were coming in and out. We were able to shoulder harness them, they were able to practice effectively for us. But we don't want them to be held back in the spring because they're going to obviously be good football players for us."

Kelly also addressed two situations on the defensive line.

Freshman Stephon Tuitt is expected to play this weekend after missing last Saturday's Purdue game because of disciplinary reasons. Kelly said the defensive end didn't travel with the team to Purdue because he missed class.

"I really liked the way he handled himself," Kelly said. "He apologized to the team for letting them down, took full responsibility for his actions, talked to his mom and they all, as family, understand why he is here and that's to get a degree."

Tuitt's absence and defensive end Ethan Johnson's sprain right foot forced the Irish to use Kona Schwenke last week, and the sophomore will now have more of a role on the defense the rest of the season.

"It was unfortunate that we had to play him," Kelly said. "Ethan went down in the first series, and we were shorthanded without Tuitt being there. That was an unfortunate situation, but we are here to win games first and foremost. He'll continue to be in that backup role."

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