Jard Work: Pryor's Knee And More

Wondering about the brace on Terrelle Pryor's surgically repaired left knee? Curious as to how offensive line coach Jim Bollman felt Mike Adams and J.B. Shugarts performed against Marshall? Which Buckeye pushed the coaches to make Jordan Hall a punt returner? Answers to these questions and more in this installment of "Jard Work."

Speaking with reporters this week, Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor said one of his goals this season is to rush for 1,000 yards. An athlete known more for his ability to run rather than his ability to pass upon his arrival in Columbus, Pryor acknowledged that his speed will always be a big part of his game.

"I'm always going to be able to run," he said. "That's who I am."

But one topic surrounding Pryor's ability to tuck the ball and run has been discussed at length since his sophomore season ended: the status of his left knee. After injuring it against New Mexico State in the ninth game of the season, he admitted to having to alter his style of play as a result.

Planting on the left knee was a dicey proposition, as was throwing while on the run. During the winter, he underwent surgery to repair a torn PCL but did not miss any part of spring practice or fall camp.

When the Buckeyes broke fall camp, however, Pryor was sporting a significant new brace on the knee. After wearing it in the season opener against Marshall, the quarterback downplayed any thoughts that his knee was not healed.

Asked how the knee felt, Pryor said, "It's fine. We're just being very cautious.

"I don't know how long I'll wear it. As of right now, it's not holding me back too much at all running. It's obviously slowing me down a little bit but it's nothing I can't handle."

What's This About LeBron? – One of the most hotly debated topics on our message board this week has been concerning the relationship between Pryor and NBA superstar LeBron James.

Wednesday, Pryor was asked if he had recently heard from James. The former Cleveland Cavalier has served as a mentor of sorts to the quarterback, and Pryor made a direct plea to Buckeye fans.

"He's a Buckeye," Pryor said, making a point to look directly into the television cameras. "Fans, if LeBron does come just treat him with respect and respect his decision. Please, no name-calling or booing or anything like that. That's my mentor and I have a lot of respect for him and a lot of love for him."

James signed a contract this summer with the Miami Heat, announcing his decision live on ESPN. To say it did not go over well with fans from Cleveland as well as others across the state would be putting it mildly, as television cameras caught protesters burning James jerseys in the streets in the aftermath of the announcement.

While Pryor said James has been there for him through some tough times during his career, the Buckeye said the situation was reversed this summer.

"He'll pick you up, just like when he was down and people were throwing him under and burning his jersey I picked him up saying, ‘I'm here with you 100 percent,' " Pryor said. "Things like that."

Should James be on hand for the game, OSU head coach Jim Tressel said he is not worried about his presence being a distraction.

"There's going to be a lot of distractions," the coach said. "If we can't handle distractions, one more is not going to make a difference."

Tressel joked that James had committed to him while he was a junior at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary. When asked if he understood why James being at the game might be a sore subject for Clevelanders, Tressel said, "Sore subjects need to pass. We all make decisions. You have to respect one another's decisions and move on. Am I surprised that it's discussed? No. The guy is special."

Assessing The Line – Arguably the most talked-about position throughout the offseason for the Buckeyes was left tackle. After winning the job in fall camp, junior Mike Adams started the opener at the position and had a decent game, offensive line coach Jim Bollman said.

"I think he played pretty well," the assistant coach said. "I think there were some mistakes in there and some missed assignments that need to get corrected. He knows that, but physically he did some things. He got beat a couple times. We saw him get beat for a sack once. Nothing is perfect, but it's the first game."

On the other side of the line, classmate J.B. Shugarts started his third consecutive game at right tackle and his tenth overall. A quick starter off the snap, Shugarts was whistled for a false start against the Thundering Herd.

Although that has been a consistent problem holding the lineman back, Bollman said it was not necessarily his fault.

"We've just got to keep emphasizing it," he said. "A lot of those things are not always his (fault). Sometimes people are making errors that there might be where he falls victim to people inside making calls that shouldn't be made and people jump the count. There's some different things, but he hasn't had nearly as many of those in camp as he has (before) but no excuses for it. He's got to get better."

Hall The Return Man – Jordan Hall continues to show that he was more than just a throw-in as the Buckeyes recruited Pryor. The fellow native of Jeannette, Pa., amassed 248 rushing yards as a freshman and emerged as the team's No. 3 running back.

This season, he is handling punt returns in addition to his duties in the backfield. For his new honor, the 5-9 195-pound Hall can thank junior wide receiver DeVier Posey. After serving as one of the team's punt return options last season, Posey said he told wide receivers coach Darrell Hazell – who is in charge of the kick return game – that he felt Hall was best suited for the job.

"I've never been an actual punt returner but I've learned some things from Ray Small and guys like that," Posey said. "(Hall and I) sit together in the film room and watch punts, different keys to tell where the kicker is kicking and the depth of where the kicker is going to be at. I feel like he's really stepped up and he's really going to have a big year returning and as the third running back or wherever he's at."

Against Marshall, Hall returned three punts for 19 yards. Tressel pointed out that if he had signaled for a fair catch on one where he was immediately hit, his average would have been nearly 10 yards per return.

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