Rose Bowl Notebook: Dec. 29

Norwood intends to play on New Year's Day; Players react to Joe Paterno's contract extension.

LOS ANGELES -- Jordan Norwood is not sure exactly how to classify the injury to his left foot. It is not a break. Maybe a sprain. Whatever the issue is, the foot in question has been aching since it was “rolled up on” in Penn State's regular-season finale against Michigan State.

Since then, Norwood, the Nittany Lions third-leading receiver with 38 catches for 605 yards and five TDs, has seen limited practice reps. But he insists he will play in Penn State's New Year's Day showdown with USC in the Rose Bowl.

“I've been practicing and I'll be ready to go,” Norwood said at a press conference at the Los Angeles Downtown Marriott Monday morning.

Never the most comfortable sort at press conferences, Norwood seemed especially reluctant to talk about the sore foot. He admitted that he feels like he's at “about 90 percent now, and working to get to 100.”

“He's been doing well,” fellow wideout Deon Butler said. “He's been running on the side and doing light participation. They don't want to hurt [the foot] any more. We all know what he can do, so there is no need to hurt it in practice.”

CONTRACT TALK

To a man, the Penn State players available Monday were thrilled 82-year-old head coach Joe Paterno signed a three-year contract extension earlier this month. But they weren't exactly surprised.

“I think it would have been more shocking if he wasn't coming back,” Butler said.

Added quarterback Daryll Clark: “I knew he was coming back. I didn't know for how many years, but there was no doubt in my mind he was coming back next year. He's not going anywhere. He's still at the top of the game and doing well, and he looks good after hip surgery.”

Paterno had hip replacement surgery the day after the Michigan State game. But he's had a rapid recovery, and hopes to be able to work the Rose Bowl from the sideline.

“At 82, I don't know what I'll be doing,” running back Evan Royster said. “It amazes me. Straight off hip surgery, he's up and walking. It just shows the heart he has and the love for the game he has. It inspires us all.”

SEEING GREEN

Butler said starting offensive linemen A.Q. Shipley and Rich Ohrnberger were still in green second-team jerseys at practice Sunday. But both players were back in the first-team light blue jersey’s Monday.

Sources say they were punished for being late for a team breakfast last week. While Butler didn't get into why his fellow seniors were knocked down a notch, he understood why Paterno made the temporary move.

“He sent a message [that] the team needed to be focused and you can't have guys who need to be setting an example doing some of the things that happened,” Butler said. “They responded well. They know what they're here for and they want to win games.

“Coach had to send a message,” Butler added. “He sent it and they got it.”

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