ND’s Tommy Rees cleared to practice, expected to play
By LaMond Pope email@example.com or 713-2691 October 22, 2013 6:56PM
Updated: October 22, 2013 11:18PM
SOUTH BEND — Tommy Rees took a step closer to playing Saturday against Air Force by getting cleared to practice Tuesday.
The senior quarterback suffered a strained neck after getting sacked in the third quarter of Saturday’s 14-10 win against USC. He did not play the rest of the game.
“We believe that Tommy’s going to be ready,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said during his weekly news conference Tuesday. “He was cleared today to practice. So we’re moving forward that he will be the starter. But we’ll certainly have to give reps to Andrew Hendrix and our third quarterback Malik Zaire.
“But I think we’re all very confident on Tuesday, it’s not Wednesday or Thursday. I think if it’s later in the week you’re more concerned. But knowing that it’s Tuesday, we feel a lot more confident that Tommy will be prepared and ready for Saturday.”
Rees went 14 of 21 for 166 yards and two touchdowns before leaving.
“We’ll monitor him,” Kelly said. “The doctors will monitor him in practice, making sure that he feels comfortable in everything that he’s doing. We won’t overwork him in practice, but we’ll prepare him accordingly.
“We’ll get Andrew some first-team reps and get Malik some second-team reps and just make sure that he’s functioning and progressing during the week. … And as long as Thursday looks good and he feels great on Thursday, then we move into Saturday without any hesitation.”
Hendrix went 0-for-4 after coming into the game. He also had six rushes for 5 yards.
“I think there’s better days for Andrew Hendrix. I think he’s going to play better. I think he expects to play better and I expect him to play better,” Kelly said. “… I think he’s a better player than what he showed against USC. I think he’s got to calm his emotions down. I think he’s capable of much more. I have much more confidence in his ability to come in and play better football. And I expect he will.”
If called on, it’s a matter of having the game performance match the practice performance for Hendrix.
“Looking good in practice and playing in the games, obviously, are two different things and I think what Andrew has to do, he’s got to take that practice now and he’s got to take that into games,” Kelly said. “And hopefully he’ll use the experience that he had against USC and he’ll take that as a learning experience and translate what he does in practice now into games.
“He knows what it looks like. Now it’s incumbent upon him as a competitor and he’s a competitor. And he wants to succeed. Now he’s going to have to take what he does in practice and he’s going to have to carry that into games.”