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Irish Insights

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Notre Dame on the mend

SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame defensive lineman and former Bishop Dwenger standout Tony Springmann was not going to available when the No. 25 Irish (8-4) play Rutgers (6-6) in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 28 in Yankee Stadium.

Springmann suffered a dislocated left knee in fall camp and was lost before the season started. He also had a setback in his rehab this season when he developed an infection after surgery.

"He's just moving around right now," coach Brian Kelly said Saturday. "He's not even close (to returning to practice). We expect him to be ready for the fall, but he's certainly in no position to be ready."

The news was better for defensive lineman Chase Hounshell, who missed this season after suffering a second torn labrum muscle in the last two years.

"Hounshell's practicing," Kelly said. "He's with us on scout team, fully-engaged, contact. Of all the guys, relative to full engagement, Chase is in there. Feels good about where he is, feels better than he ever has."

Safety Nicky Baratti and linebacker Doug Randolph, who both had shoulder surgeries in August, fall between Hounshell and Springmann in terms of their rehab.

"Because of Nicky's situation, he's at a safety position where he's going to be in a hit position," Kelly said of Baratti, who has had two shoulder surgeries since January and missed this season. "One-on-one striking position, we're not going to put him in contact probably through the spring. We're obviously going to put him in all of our drill work, but we're going to keep him in a red jersey if you will all the way through the spring. He's going to have to find his way throughout the spring without contact. I think we're fine, I think he can continue to develop in the program, but with that second surgery, instead of going six months where we contacted him after six, we're going to go nine, and really air on being conservative with him.

"I think (Randolph, same thing. These guys are running, conditioning, football-related drill work, no contact, is where the shoulder guys are."

Freshman running back Greg Bryant is back at practice after undergoing knee surgery, which was similar to the one that ended nose guard Louis Nix III's season on Nov. 21.

"He's really good, really excited about where he can be next year," Kelly said. "I think we did the right thing with him not playing this year, because I can see where his development and how he's going to help our football team next year. He's a dynamic player."

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