For a second straight training camp, Notre Dame has been rocked by adversity.
On Friday, starting defensive tackle Jarron Jones suffered a significant knee injury that will shelve him for the season, according to multiple sources. After Saturday's practice Brian Kelly confirmed that Jones will miss the year with a third-degree MCL injury. Jones was hurt when he was rolled up during Friday's practice and will undergo surgery next week.Jones had been working his way back from foot surgery late last season that knocked him out of spring practice and limited him early in camp.
Despite Kelly’s claims that Jones had “no restrictions” following the 315-pound athlete’s off-season rehab, the coaching staff had been careful with him to date in camp. During Thursday’s practice, which was open to the media, Jones did not take live reps in team periods with his left foot still wrapped. He attended Saturday's practice with a cast on his right leg.
With Jones lost it presents defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder with two less-than-ideal options. Either the Irish can move defensive end Isaac Rochell inside, which the staff did during the Music City Bowl, or Notre Dame can call freshman Jerry Tillery into the starting lineup. Sophomores Daniel Cage and Jay Hayes could be options as well, although much less likely ones. However, Kelly said Rochell won't shift all the way inside and the job will go to Tillery or Cage. Tillery had been working in a back-up capacity behind Sheldon Day at the three-technique.
Kelly said that Jones will remain with the team and travel to road games, adding that he expects the defensive lineman to be back with the squad next year as a fifth-year senior.