Talkin' Tressel: Open Week Edition

Ohio State might not play this weekend but the team is still in action getting ready for next weekend's showdown with Penn State. Head coach Jim Tressel gave the latest on his team Thursday in his only press conference of the week.

A week off should result in a healthier Ohio State team taking the field next weekend against Penn State. In his only press conference of the week, head coach Jim Tressel said a number of injured players are making strides toward getting back in action led by senior captain Ross Homan.

After suffering a lower leg injury Oct. 16 at Wisconsin, Homan has missed the last two games. The linebacker did some running on land when the Buckeyes returned to practice Wednesday and was expected to do a little more when they again hit the field Thursday.

So while that is a good sign for the Buckeyes, redshirt freshman linebacker Dorian Bell also returned to practice after missing time with his second concussion of the season. Bell did not take part in contact drills, but he did everything else and took part in more action than Homan.

In addition, Tressel said his hope is that freshman defensive back Christian Bryant will be back in action for the team's bowl game after suffering an infection in his foot that has sidelined him for the last two games. The Buckeyes also saw cornerback Donnie Evege return in a limited role after suffering an injury Sept. 18.

Also included in that mix is sophomore tight end Jake Stoneburner, who suffered a high-ankle sprain against Eastern Michigan and missed the next two games.

"Jake just said yesterday when I saw him in the locker room that he felt like he was really pushing off like he was prior to the injury," Tressel said. "Hopefully that is a great example of what we can take from the (open) week – if we can take him from 90 percent to 100 percent."

OSU returned home after a 52-10 road victory against Minnesota and the players were granted three days of rest. Wednesday's practice was solely devoted to fundamentals – something the team does not get to focus on as much during the regular season.

That will slowly change during the coming days.

"We had more individual periods and longer group periods (Wednesday)," Tressel said. "We didn't focus on someone else's plays and someone else's defense. We focused on our own. Today, probably 50 percent of the time will be focused on us and probably have six periods where we're (preparing) other people's things."

The focus will be only on Penn State and not either of the team's final two opponents, Tressel said. After an early-morning practice Friday, the Buckeyes will be off Saturday as the coaches and players fan out to watch high school football playoffs. The regular game-week schedule returns Sunday.

The coach said he would prefer not to have an open week but added that the task is to make sure that the team continues to peak at the right time. Looking back at the 2004 season, Tressel said he is not sure that year's team did that.

"You don't want them going, ‘We're tired of running this play. We know they're going to run this play. We've seen it 50 times,' " Tressel said. "I guess our primary things are to get our bodies ready to go and get our emotional gas tanks refilled."

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