Injured Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford has been throwing and taking reps with the first team at practice this week, and head coach James Franklin has not ruled him out completely for Saturday’s game against Illinois.
Clifford threw Wednesday during a practice session that was open to the media for a short time, joining backups Ta’Quan Roberson and Christian Veilleux. Franklin had said Tuesday that Roberson and Veilleux would get equal reps while competing for the start on Saturday, but it appears as if Clifford has entered the conversation.
“We’re not sure at this stage,” Franklin said after practice. “All three of them took reps – a third, a third, a third. We’ll see. I don’t know at this stage, but we’ll see where he’s at by Saturday. Hopefully, obviously, we’ll have an idea before that. But it was good to see him be able to get some reps before practice today.”
Franklin also said that Wednesday’s practice was not the first time Clifford has thrown since his injury.
Clifford, a fifth-year senior who has started all six games this season, suffered an injury early in the second quarter at Iowa and was sidelined for the remainder of the game. Roberson, a redshirt sophomore, replaced him but struggled, leading the Nittany Lions (5-1 overall, 2-1 Big Ten) to just three points in their 23-20 loss on Oct. 9.
Franklin has not commented on the nature of Clifford’s injury. Speculation was that the quarterback sustained an upper-body injury, but he was seen wearing a knee brace at practice.
Franklin said the situation with Clifford was “fluid,” that the status of a player on the team’s injury report could change from the first staff meeting at 7 a.m. to later that day. He said that while he wants starters to get most of the practice reps, it’s “hard to say right now” with the quarterback situation.
“I think we would all agree that we’d like Sean back,” he said. “So we’ll adjust and do what we have to do.”