Still recovering from injuries suffered when a player ran into him on Aug. 7, Penn State coach Joe Paterno said Tuesday there was a "50-50" chance he would be able to coach from the sideline - and not the press box - in the Nittany Lions' season opener against Indiana State.
"I want to be downstairs," he said at his teleconference. "That being upstairs is for the birds. I don't seem to be in [the game]. I like to be on the sideline and get a feel for things and be able to grab a kid and tell him to do certain things. So I'm going to try hard to be on the sideline."
Paterno injured his right shoulder and hip when wide receiver Devon Smith crashed into him while going for a pass. He still needs a golf cart to get around during practice, and he walks around with the help of a cane.
"I can't move fast yet, I've had trouble getting out of the way of some things," he said.
Having the guys over
Paterno invited at least 15 seniors to his house last week to discuss how they wanted to handle the naming of captains for the team.
The decision was to have a vote, which took place Monday. Paterno said the identity of the captains probably would be announced Thursday.
"I debated what I wanted to do with the captains because we have a lot of good seniors," he said. "And I wasn't particularly anxious to have anybody pick the seniors and whatever. So they ran with the ball on this."
Offensive tackle Chimi Okoli said it was quite an experience visiting Paterno's home, especially after seeing a picture of quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno - the head coach's son - from years past.
"We saw a picture of Joe, Jay, and the rest of the kids - probably taken about 1812 or somewhere - when they were all really young," Okoli said. "Jay was a baby and we cried to him for three straight practices. He didn't like it too much. But it was like walking into a football museum."
Paterno said senior running back Stephfon Green, who returned to the team last weekend after being asked to leave by the coach, had earned the right to come back.
"Green had gotten in a couple of situations, some of it academic, some of it otherwise," he said. "I told him that until I was sure he understood that he had certain responsibilities, I would not let him come out for football. So he went to work and he proved to me that he deserves another shot, and he's getting another shot."
Senior safety Nick Sukay said the team had warmly welcomed back Green.
"He brings different dimensions that you just can't teach someone," Sukay said. "He's really a team player and will do anything to help your team win. He's real emotional. He gets us fired up and everything. We're so glad to have him back."
Paterno said wide receiver Curtis Drake, the former West Catholic standout, would undergo tests Friday on his twice-broken left leg that could determine whether he'll be cleared to practice next week.
"Drake is out there running around and doing some things," the coach said. "But he's not nearly had any kind of real football contact or anything like that. They're going to give him final tests on Friday and maybe he can start doing things on Monday."
Drake initially suffered a broken leg at the start of 2010 preseason practice and sat out the entire season, then suffered the same injury in the same area early in spring practice.