Carpenter Holds Out Hope He'll Play Again

OSU senior linebacker Bobby Carpenter and coach Jim Tressel discuss Carpenter's possible return from a broken fibula suffered during last month's win at Michigan. Carpenter talks about the injury and his current rehab process as well as his hope to play one more time for the Scarlet and Gray.

One key question that arose today as Ohio State discussed its Fiesta Bowl match-up with Notre Dame was the status of senior linebacker Bobby Carpenter.

Carpenter went down with a broken right fibula on the defense's first play of the Michigan game last month.

OSU coach Jim Tressel addressed Carpenter's status.

"I'm sure we won't know anything until we get to the bowl site," Tressel said. "He will probably be in that boot through the end of the bowl practice here. Then, it's strictly going to be up to X-rays and physicians' opinions. I, for one, am going to be very conservative. I don't want to do anything to jeopardize his health or his future.

"I am sure he is going to be one that does everything he can to get ready for this game. But I wouldn't want to hazard a guess about what the chances are."

Tressel was asked whether Carpenter, if cleared medically, would be able to step back in and play without much practice time.

"I think it would be a little bit easier for a guy who has played a bunch than it would for somebody who is in an earlier stage of his development," Tressel said. "Will he be as good as he could be if he had a chance to play every day leading up to the game? Probably not. We don't over-practice our older guys in bowl practice anyway because I'm not sure that's the best thing. But practice is important."

Carpenter joined his senior classmates at the bowl announcement press conference. He was wearing a walking boot on his right foot.

"It's a six- to eight-week recovery time, I'm told," Carpenter said. "From the day it happened until Jan. 2, it will be 45 days. We'll be right there. The big thing is not how it's doing now. I have hardly done anything. I just started walking on it without crutches. Hopefully, when I get out there, I'll be able to jog around and see how it feels.

"I'll do the best I can to rehab my leg and help (backup) James (Laurinaitis) get prepared in case I can't play. I just want to go out and help the team win and go out the right way, any way I can."

Carpenter discussed the nature of the injury.

"They said it was a broken fibula," Carpenter said. "It was a clean break and a stable fracture, so there was no need for surgery. It's a six-week recovery and we'll see how it goes from there."

He recalled what happened on the defense's opening play at Michigan.

"I got twisted up a little bit," Carpenter said. "I've never really had ankle problems and I don't tape my ankles. I don't know if that may have prevented it. But I got my foot stuck in the turf a little bit. Their right tackle (Jake Long) is a big guy. I got bent back and I could feel it going. There wasn't much I could do.

"When something like that happens, you can feel it happen. I could feel it break. I was hoping it was not what it was. But as soon as I tried to walk, it was pretty painful."

The injury did not require surgery, though, allowing Carpenter some hope that he will play one more time for the Buckeyes.

"They said if the bone had been displaced, I guess I would have needed surgery," Carpenter said. "I guess it is similar to the Terrell Owens injury from a year ago. I guess his was more severe than mine. That may be why he had to have his plated. Any time you can avoid surgery, that's a good thing."

Carpenter was asked if preparation for the NFL draft workout season has entered his mind.

"That's not something I'm really looking at right now," said Carpenter, who is considered a certain first day (top three round) NFL draft choice. "Right now, I am focused on getting healthy for any future endeavors I may have – this game as well as that. I just want to get healthy and help this team prepare. If I get cleared by the doctors, I'm going to go out there and play. But if come the 31st or the 1st and I can't do what I need to do, they're not going to let me play anyway.

"I'll try to prepare and help out the young guys. I would really like to finish off my career out there.

"I want to play. I talked to the guys. I want to do everything I can to help this team. But first and foremost, I have to get healthy. I want to help the young guys. I'm helping Anthony (Schlegel) and A.J. (Hawk) break down film right now."

Carpenter discussed watching his teammates go on and defeat Michigan without him.

"It was an emotional thing for me and all of my teammates," he said. "Those guys came up to me and they said, ‘We're going to go out there and win this thing for you. Make sure you have a good experience in your last time out here, whether you're on the field or not.'

"I am very thankful for those guys – Nate (Salley), A.J., Anthony, Tyler (Everett), Donte (Whitner), Kudes (Mike Kudla) and Marcus Green and all of the seniors – for going out there and playing as hard as they could and doing what they could against Michigan's offense."

Carpenter shared his thoughts as he was headed up the tunnel for treatment.

"It was disbelief," he said. "I had something like this happen to me my junior year in high school. I broke my leg in the last game of the season with three minutes to go. It was much more severe than this. You ask yourself, ‘Is this really happening? I can't believe it. This is my last game.'

"You want to go out there and win. It is a tough thing to come to grips with. Now I'm just looking at it as a chance to rest up my other injuries. Hopefully, I'll have a chance to play in this game."

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