Notebook: Kitchen rebuilding self-esteem

It has been two long weeks for Rutgers senior safety Zaire Kitchen, whose last memory of playing is the two missed tackles in the Sept. 26 win at Maryland that led to the Terps' only touchdown. He talks about rebuilding his self-esteem, and Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano updates the injury situation heading into Saturday's homecoming tilt with Texas Southern.

The week off was good for Rutgers safety Zaire Kitchen's body, but not so much for his mind.

His limbs were bumped and bruised following the win at Maryland, so Rutgers coach Greg Schiano held the senior out of practice during the bye week.

Kitchen's mind was also battered, the result of two missed tackles on Maryland's only touchdown drive that have tortured the former Hightstown (N.J.) High star since the Sept. 26 game, which is why he is itching to play Saturday against Texas Southern.

"I want to get out there just to make me feel better and get my self-esteem back around,'' Kitchen said. "I'm ready to go out there and play the kind of football I'm capable of playing.''

Kitchen is sixth on the Scarlet Knights with 19 tackles, but it is the two he missed against the Terps that made him work harder on his fundamentals during the bye.

"Personally, I didn't play the best. I missed two tackles that led to a touchdown,'' Kitchen said. "I understand what I need to do to improve. Starting off with this game preparation week, I went out there knowing the things I need to improve on as far as improving my game from last week. I'm willing to work hard to correct those mistakes.

"On those two tackles, I stopped my feet. When you're going out there one-on-one to make a tackle, you can't stop your feet. Of course, the offensive man has an advantage because he knows where he's going and I don't, so you keep your feet moving, keep your head up and never stop your feet.''

Defensive communication

Kitchen said familiarity within the defense is markedly better one month into the season than it was in the opener against Cincinnati.

"Sometimes you could go out there and you don't have to give hand signals,'' Kitchen said. "You can give gestures to some of the older guys that you're on the field with because they understand our defense.''

Savage ready

Rutgers quarterback Tom Savage went through the week of practice and will start for the Scarlet Knights. Savage suffered a concussion Sept. 19 against Florida International.

"He should be all right,'' Schiano said.

Injury report

Defensive end George Johnson (ankle) practiced all week, and it appears likely the senior will play.

"I wouldn't say he's 100 percent,'' Schiano said. "I think by Saturday he'll be feeling good enough to go.''

Also, defensive tackle Charlie Noonan (illness) practiced all week.

"I think Charlie's going to play,'' Schiano said. "We'll see what the doc says, and make sure he doesn't have any side effects from practice.''

Mason Robinson surgery

Schiano said junior running back Mason Robinson had season-ending knee surgery, and will be limited in spring practice.

"It's going to be a long road back,'' Schiano said. "He's such a hard worker and (has) such a great attitude. As far as recoveries go, he'll do well.''

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