DALLAS - Penn State practiced again Wednesday without starting quarterback Matt McGloin, and interim head coach Tom Bradley said it was looking increasingly less likely that the redshirt junior would be able to play in the TicketCity Bowl against Houston.
McGloin suffered a concussion Dec. 17 in a post-practice scuffle with wide receiver Curtis Drake and has yet to be cleared to practice. If he cannot go Monday in the Cotton Bowl against the Cougars, sophomore Rob Bolden will take his place.
"We're going to have some concerns - no question about it," Bradley said of McGloin after Wednesday's practice at Bishop Lynch High School. "But we hope we're going to get him some practice later in the week if the doc will let him go. But it's up to the doc."
Asked the minimum number of practices McGloin would need to be ready for Houston, Bradley replied: "Well, you'd probably like a couple of practices. But the longer you go, the odds of him playing aren't very good."
Bradley said McGloin has been at both practices since the Nittany Lions arrived here.
"He's helping where he can help," he said. "That's the way it is on this team with anybody that's been hurt. They're out there helping. He's talking to the quarterbacks and doing all the things he should be doing as a leader."
Meanwhile, Bolden, who started the first seven games this season but hasn't seen meaningful playing time since Oct. 29 against Illinois, was taking all the repetitions at quarterback with the first team, the coach said.
"He's done pretty well," Bradley said. "He keeps getting more comfortable every day, and he's working hard. It's just getting the reps."
If Bolden plays, it would be quite a turnaround from a year ago, when he stayed on the sideline for the entire Outback Bowl while McGloin threw five interceptions in the Nittany Lions' 37-24 loss to Florida. Bolden asked to be released from his scholarship within a week of the game, but his request was turned down by then-coach Joe Paterno.
In addition to being rusty, Bolden hasn't played well this season, completing just 42 percent of his passes for 548 yards and a touchdown, with four interceptions. But his teammates say they are confident in him.
"Rob's been there before," fullback Mike Zordich said. "He's been thrown into tough situations. And I think that a lot of people don't understand that in this last year, things might have seemed a little shaky, but he's been thrown into some tough spots. But we're going to fight with him."
If McGloin is out, and with redshirt freshman quarterback Paul Jones staying home because of academics, the No. 2 job will go to redshirt junior Shane McGregor, who saw limited action in just two games in 2011.
While McGloin may not play, Drake, a former star at West Catholic High, is not even on the trip. The redshirt sophomore indicated in an interview Tuesday that it was his decision to "take a break" and not accompany the team.
Bradley suggested it was more of a mutual decision but wouldn't say who presented the idea, calling it "a personal conversation." He did say the reason for his absence was more a matter of Drake's missing practices to address personal issues than the fight with McGloin.
"With everything that's been happening, it had nothing to do with the fight," the coach said. "It had to do with him missing practices. He was taking care of some personal things and some academic things that came up. But it wasn't an academic issue. It wasn't the fight issue."
Bradley emphasized that Drake was still a member of the team and that he would return next month for the start of offseason workouts.
Wide receiver Shawney Kersey, a former Woodbury High star, also is not on the trip. Bradley said Kersey also had missed practice time with "some personal matters to attend to."