CALLING CARD: TE Garry Gilliam

Returning from injury Gilliam reviews his status and tackles topics from spring practice here, including his return to the practice field, changes with the tight end position and more.

Garry Gilliam tackled a variety of topics on Wednesday morning, including his rehab and return to the Penn State practice field. Here is a summary of his comments:

• Physically, he is 100 percent. Has been since January. He is not limited in anything. The staff is working to build his confidence because he is still a little rusty and still a little nervous about the knee. Overall, though, "It's going great."

• He cleared up why his rehab took so long. There was significant damage in his knee (it happened at Iowa in 2010). Torn ACL and MCL. Also damage to the patellar tendon and bone bruises. They fixed the MCL first and were going to fix the ACL in November of 2010. But he developed a staph-like infection. That pushed back his ACL surgery until May of 2011 — last year.

• He is in the process of gathering the info necessary to request a sixth year from the NCAA. That would give him three more seasons of eligibility.

• He said learning the new offense is like learning a new language. Things are faster in practice. But O'Brien "teaches very efficiently."

• Things are more complicated for the tight ends than in the past. There is more "thinking in terms of reading defensive coverages and changing our routes. We're involved in a lot. Pretty much everything." He said it is a lot to absorb but if the tight ends have problems, O'Brien "coaches us through it. So it's not that bad." The tight ends are "kind of the keystones of the offense."

• O'Brien sits in on their breakdown meetings.

• Watching tape of the Patriots has been helpful. He intends to reach out to Gronkowski and Hernandez for advice at some point.

• He is playing both tight end positions.

• On returning to practice this spring after not being on the field since October 2010: "It was kind of surreal. I remember a few players saying, ‘Woah, I'm not used to seeing you in a helment and shoulder pads.' "


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