Notes: Barbieri's Back, Martinek, etc.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- After missing time with a back injury, Howard Barbieri is back in the middle of Rutgers' offensive line. The center spoke to about his transition from guard, his health and what he brings to the unit on the field. Also, running back Joe Martinek was back at practice after being limited for a week with a hamstring injury.

Rutgers center Howard Barbieri is not 100 percent, but he is close.

He wasn't talking about his health, although he returned to full-fledged practicing Monday after missing time with a sore back.

He mean in his transition from guard to center.

"I feel almost 100 percent ready," Barbieri said. "There are one or two things that get me a little bit, but I'm working with (offensive line) coach (Kyle) Flood a lot and with Caleb (Ruch). He helped me out with some of his past experience. It's scheme-wise with some stuff that we're doing."

The 6-foot-5, 304-pound Barbieri added none of the issues were reason for concern, although he elected not to get into too much detail on them for scouting reasons, and repetition in practice should remedy them.

"I had a situation today and I did it correctly, so hopefully it's just the reps," Barbieri said. "Once we get out of camp I'll be all right with it."

Barbieri's move from right guard to center has been slowed by a pair of injuries – a knee in the spring and the back this month – but his knowledge of the offense, and past history of making blocking calls, are making it easier even if he wasn't taking all the reps in practice.

"It really hasn't been that tough of a transition because last year I would help (Ryan) Blaszczyk with some calls," Barbieri said. "If he didn't know exactly what was going on, he would ask me and I would help, so it's not like it's my first time doing it."

During Big East media day coach Greg Schiano said the offensive line needed to be more physical, and if that fits into Barbieri's style and persona.

When the Scarlet Knights offense struggled in Saturday's scrimmage, Schiano mentioned the absence of Barbieri and running back Joe Martinek did not help.

"I think, personally, I'm physical at center," Barbieri said. "When you're hitting people, it's like a chain reaction. Hopefully, they see me hitting people and they get a little more pumped up by it."

Martinek back
Barbieri wasn't the only projected starter to return to practice Monday as Martinek was involved after being held out of many drills for the last week because of a hamstring injury. And Martinek said his time watching practice rather than participating was not fun.

"It's very frustrating because you don't want to rush it back because if you re-injure it," he said, "you know it could be another week or two of rehabbing and just getting it better enough to play. I want to be real smart with this, and our training staff did a great job."

Despite missing reps for more than a week, Martinek is pleased with where he is at in readying for the season.

"I still approach it the same way I always approach it," Martinek said. "The only thing is I haven't gotten the reps I usually get by now, but I'm still really comfortable, really confident and I know the system."

Extra points
Rutgers is holding one of its few two-a-day practice sessions today. …Freshman running back Jordan Thomas (ankle) left practice and his timetable for a return is not yet known. ...The only injury coming out of Saturday's scrimmage was to backup defensive back Patrick Kivlehan, who is out with an undisclosed injury. Schiano said he was hopeful McEvoy would return in a few days. …Freshman David Milewski moved up the depth chart and practiced at middle linebacker with the second defense while Jim Dumont moved to strongside linebacker. Marvin Booker dropped from the two-deep.

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