When Pete Massaro took the field against Northwestern on Saturday, he wasn't thinking about his knee. He was thinking about his shoulder, but only a little bit.
For the most part, he was just thinking about how good it felt to be back.
"I'm finally confident that I'm getting better," Massaro said.
The Marple Newton graduate returned to the Penn State lineup for the first time since the Nittany Lions' 17-16 loss to Virginia. The defensive end didn't start, but received playing time -- and broke up a pass.
For the injury-plagued fifth-year senior, that's OK. He knows he's finally getting better and that's all that matters.
"It did take me longer to heal than I was expecting, but I'm on the right path now as far as my health is concerned," Massaro said. "I'm confident that I'm getting better."
Massaro missed the 2011 season while rehabilitating from an ACL tear in his left knee. In training camp this summer, he was still not 100 percent. But Massaro pushed through it, until the Virginia game. That's when he injured his shoulder.
"The shoulder kept me out the past three weeks," Massaro said. "And that was an acute injury."
It may have been acute, but it did slow him down. Combined with the knee, Massaro had a hard time playing at 100 percent.
He practiced last week, but took limited reps. Toward the end of the week, he said it was hard to do things like walk up or down the stairs.
"As the week goes on, I get more and more sore every day," Massaro said. "It takes a toll on the strength of the leg."
Right now, though, Massaro said he feels like he has "adequate strength." He expects to take more and more reps at practice in the upcoming days.
And as of right now, he doesn't anticipate missing anymore games -- given he doesn't suffer any setbacks. For the senior, that's a huge sigh of relief.