Injury Riddled Purdue is Recovering

by Jim Johnson

It’s not like Purdue is going to be able to walk into Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday and blast past the Rockets.

Purdue doesn’t have much of an advantage over Toledo when looking at the history of the two teams’ meetings.

The Boilermakers are 3-2 in its series with the Rockets. Purdue’s longest winning streak against Toledo is two games – which is the last two meetings, including a 52-31 win a year ago.

Not to mention, Purdue is injury riddled, but improving.

Quarterback Robert Marve came out of the game late in the third quarter, but it was late in the second half that he injured his right knee on a quarterback sneak play on 4-and-1.

I’ve said it before, Marve plays so hard, he gets hurt or he’s really going to hurt himself – just like Bob Sanders of the Colts.

Marve said on the run he was in a position where he couldn’t move and a helmet caught him in the knee. According to the transcript of Purdue coach Danny Hope’s Tuesday press conference, it was a deep bruise and he is expected to play.

If he doesn’t play? Well, Rob Henry will step in again at the quarterback spot. Henry had 65 yards rushing on 10 carries last week and became the first quarterback to lead the tam in rushing since Joey Elliott in 2009.

But why is it so important that Marve does play? The Big Ten part of the schedule is nearing and Marve is going to be key if Purdue is going to have any sort of success.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Marve doesn’t play though. I wasn’t able to capture the tone or the mood from reading the transcripts of Hope’s press conference, but he certainly didn’t elaborate. It was almost like he shut it down.

Not to mention that after the game on Saturday, Marve downplayed the injury to his knee. It’s the same knee he surgery on in 2009 to repair a torn ACL, which appeared to be wrapped still after the game.

RB Dan Dierking was also injured with bruised ribs and had limited playing time last week and didn’t even practice in preparation for the Ball State game.

Hope said he expects Dierking to play against Toledo.

This team, even if Keith Smith is out for the season, has potential to be really good and do some really good things. Health is obviously important and the top two significant keys for Purdue at this point is getting healthy and learning how to thrown the long ball.

The running game has been impressive to me with everyone Purdue has to mix into the running game. But those long pass plays are needed from time to time. Marve can throw the ball. It just seems, to me anyway, its a matter of having a guy there to catch it.

While health is on the mind of Purdue right now, Hope said he sent a message to Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio who suffered a heart attack last week.

Hope told the media on Tuesday that the job of a head football coach is rather stressful and talked about the stress of the job and about how much time the occupation takes.

“You guys can be nicer and make it a lot easier,” Hope said laughing. “But it’s very stressful. The hours, it’s total life consuming. During the season if it was an 80-hour week, a short week, and you usually dip into the 100-hour week. Those aren’t exaggerations, those are legit, and it goes on for hundreds of days in a row. The bigger it gets, the bigger it gets and the more there is. So it is total life consuming, and it is fast-paced, and it’s a stressful occupation in a lot of ways.”

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Keith Smith, Bob Sanders Out for the Season

by Jim Johnson

I wouldn’t say that Purdue football is screwed, but the loss of senior WR Keith Smith hurts.

The Indianapolis Colts isn’t screwed, however, with the loss of Bob Sanders to a torn biceps tendon.

Smith went down in the fourth quarter of Purdue’s 31-21 win over Western Illinois on Saturday. On Tuesday, it was released that Smith would be out for the season with a torn MCL and ACL.

Sanders’ injury came at some point when he was throwing his body around the field.

Losing Smith is kind of like if the Colts lost Reggie Wayne – kind of.

Losing Sanders is kind of like the norm. It’s already like he’s never there.

Smith had six receptions for on Saturday for 43 yards and in Purdue’s loss to Notre Dame, he had 12 receptions for 80 yards.

Purdue’s passing game already isn’t too impressive – to me anyway. What really impresses me is the running game. Purdue can run. Dan Dierking had his first 100-yard rushing game on Saturday, ending with 103 yards to lead the Boilermakers running the ball.

Quarterback Robert Marve’s running game also impresses me. He ran for a touchdown against Notre Dame and had 26 yards rushing on Saturday against Western Illinois.

I won’t be surprised, however, is Marve is the next guy to miss a period of time for the Boilermakers. He really kind of reminds me of Sanders. He puts his body through such a beating. Marve, as a quarterback, will put his head down in an attempt to gain an extra yard.

Marve will probably end up injuring himself before he can finish knocking off the rust he has from sitting out a year in the middle of a transfer.

If Marve goes out, then Purdue really IS screwed.

I like Marve and I like Sanders too, but it is certainly time to say good bye to Sanders. He plays so hard and I know he’s probably about to rip all of that hair out because he’s dying to play.

But it’s time to say good bye to Sanders. I’m not sure it’s worth the money, the time, or the anger.

I certainly don’t blame Sanders. Every ball club in the NFL would do anything to obtain a player that plays as hard as Sanders.

So good bye to Bob. Good bye to Smith. And if Marve gets hurt, well, I told you so.

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Pacers second-round Draft Pick Arrested

by Jim Johnson

Lance Stephenson, the Indiana Pacers second-round draft pick was arrested on Sunday for pushing is girlfriend down a flight of stairs.

The second-round draft pick came in this past June’s NBA Draft.

The Indiana Pacers need to go ahead and get rid of Stephenson. They don’t need this and they don’t this type of publicity and they don’t need this type of person on their roster. They have worked too hard to restore their image ever since The Brawl in Detroit.

Indiana Pacers President of Basketball Operations, Larry Bird, released this statement late Sunday evening:

“We have been made aware of a situation involving Lance Stephenson early Sunday morning in Brooklyn.  We are currently in the process of gathering information and will have further comments as we learn more facts.”

Stephenson, 19, sent his 21-year old girlfriend head-first down 10 steps. She was treated for neck and head injuries.

This isn’t the first time Stephenson has been in trouble. He was arrested in 2008 for sexual abuse on a 17-year old inside of Lincoln High School in New York.

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Thoughts While Watching the Colts Pre-Season Game

by Jim Johnson

Pre-Season games don’t mean a lot and don’t give a lot of insight into a season, but I’m confident the Indianapolis Colts can make a return to the SuperBowl.

The Colts are more experienced this season and have the veterans back that were out last season – Bob Sanders and Adam Vinatieri specifically.

The bad thing is Sanders can be out for the season without notice. The other bad thing is that Sanders plays so freakin’ hard that he hurts himself. What a monster.

This Indianapolis Colts team continues to be a very special team with some very special group of guys. Not only are they a talented group, they are a very professional group when it comes to dealing with the media and fans – and I believe their professionalism came before joining the Colts and with little grooming by the front office.

I still wonder what is going to happen when Colts quarterback Peyton Manning decides his time is over in the NFL. Watching Sunday’s pre-season game against the San Francisco 49ers, I have a difficult time seeing other guys in the future coming in and throwing the ball like Manning.

What’s more important than the way Manning throws the ball? It’s his work ethic and the way he approaches training camp and game preparation. We’ve all heard the stories about Manning. How many other quarterbacks do we hear those same stories with the same type of worth ethic? Hell, Brett Favre can’t even show up to training camp anymore.

Jim Sorgi never really proved to be too impressive at the quarterback position – of course, he never really had the chance. But if Manning ever got injured, how impressive would he actually have been? Curtis Painter has potential to do good things. He had a decent career at Purdue and obviously Bill Polian sees something in him or else he wouldn’t be with the club.

Manning has several years left in his career, but I really think the Colts are in the process of grooming Painter and getting him to a high level talent-wise and work ethic-wise. When Manning decides it’s time to hang it up, the Colts are going to want someone to come in and play at the same level as Manning – or at least a level that close.

I think it would be smart of them to start doing that. It’s going to take some work, obviously. Ha! I don’t think anyone is going to forget that New York Jets game for quite some time when the Colts pulled their starters and Painters performance was nauseating. He didn’t let it get him down though. He could have easily told himself that maybe the NFL wasn’t for him.

I remember getting some comments from Painter after that Jets game. Obviously, he wasn’t happy, but he kept his head up and had the attitude of being able to work through it. He’ll never be Peyton Manning caliber, but I think he could be a very good quarterback – although his performance Sunday wasn’t much to get excited about.

What I liked while watching the Colts Pre-season game?

  • I liked the impressive defense. The first play of the game, the Colts forced a fumble and had great field position. After the first possession of Curtis Painter as quarterback, the Colts forced another turnover and another advantage with good field position. Defense wins games and on Sunday the defense played much better than the offense.
  • I liked the way Joseph Addai made plays and always have. I also like the way Austin Collie performed. If Reggie Wayne is unavailable, Collie is the guy that I want in his place instead.
  • I’m excited about Brandon James coming to the Colts. At Colts Training Camp last Thursday, Colts coach Jim Caldwell said he wasn’t looking for James to make outstanding plays as a kick returner. He still continues to say it is okay to call a fair-catch. It was nice to see the special teams run the ball after a kickoff, and if they continue to do that, James is a guy who can do some exciting things.

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From Racing to Football

by Jim Johnson

Okay, so I was wrong. There were a few more people out at the track for the Brickyard 400, however, not as impressive and certainly not a sell out. The Brickyard 400 recorded a crowd of 240,000 in 2008. In 2009, the race recorded 180,000. And on Sunday, the 2010 race recorded at 140,000 which was probably actually 120,000.

The Brickyard was far less than a thriller. It is a great story though. There’s one team with two drivers with two completely different outcomes. Chip Ganassi, as an owner, has a lot to celebrate, after Jamie McMurray won the race and Ganassi became the first owner to win the Daytona 500, the Indy 500 and, now, the Brickyard 400 in the same season.

Ganassi still has to deal with a heartbroken driver in Juan Pablo Montoya. In a race with 10 different leaders, Juan Pablo Montoya in the lead four times for a total of 86 laps before he was knocked out of the race when he hit the wall and then got hit right, backside of his car by Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Of course, how would I know what a thriller is at the Brickyard 400? This is my first NASCAR race ever. Back in May, the Indy 500 was my first 500 ever. Can you tell I don’t have a lot of racing on my resume?

I do have to say though, when you’re at the track, it’s a lot more fun than sitting on the couch watching the race. Racing, for me, is a lot like baseball. I absolutely love baseball, but I have a hard time watching it on TV. When I’m at the park, it’s a blast.

My mind continues to wonder off towards football though. How could it not? High school practice starts a week from tomorrow and the Indianapolis Colts report to camp in one week, next Sunday.

Indianapolis Colts tight end, Dallas Clark, waved the green flag at the Brickyard on Sunday and I know football is on his mind right now too.

“It’s that time of year,” Clark said. “I’m getting tired of running and conditioning. I’d rather be doing it with pads on and running around hitting and doing all of that stuff.”

The Indianapolis Colts first pres-season game is on Aug. 15 against San Francisco. High School football starts on Aug. 20 with scrimmage games the week before on Aug. 13. The first college games start on Sept. 2. Thank God it’s getting close.

As for Clark, he’s glad the Indianapolis Colts move right into playing games quickly after the start of camp.

“You hear about these guys back in the day who started in June or July and practiced for six to eight weeks before they even played a game,” Clark said. “For us you get a good solid week or 10 days in before you play a game. It’s a great chance for the younger guys to get on film and see how they react in a game situation.”

Wow, I didn’t know it was that easy to move from NASCAR racing to the topic of football so quickly. I guess that goes to show you how much was going on and how exciting it was at the Brickyard 400.

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Question isn’t about Brickyard attendance, but Fever attendance

by Jim Johnson

There aren’t very many people in the stands at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this afternoon. I look outside the media room at the track and can count the people I see. And I’m not convinced there will be many who will show up on Sunday for the race. Who knows what the reason is? It could be a lack of interest in NASCAR. It could be economic times. Or maybe this terrible heat – it feels a heck of a lot hotter at the Speedway, by the way.

But I’m not really that concerned or wondering about the lack of numbers at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the weekend of the Brickyard 400. But I continue to wonder why there is a lack of people in the stands at Conseco Fieldhouse during Indiana Fever games.

My journey as a freelance sportswriter sends me to Indiana Pacers games, Indianapolis Colts games, Big Ten events, and high school sporting events. Lately, my responsibilities have expanded to racing events at the Speedway and to the Indiana Fever.

So I haven’t been to very many Indiana Fever games in my life. In fact, this season is the first year I have ever been to a game. I can’t help but to wonder why the curtains are down in the upper balcony and why there continues to be so many empty seats during a Fever game.

Everyone uses the excuse that its the WNBA, however, these Fever games are far more exciting than the majority of the Indiana Pacers games I’ve watched these past several years.

The attendance numbers are down, however, there is so much energy in Conseco Fieldhouse during a game. Indiana has a great and ethical WNBA team and more fans should fill the seats.

It’s lack of education and knowledge of what this team is doing and capable of doing. How many in Indiana knows the depth of the Fever team? How many know they have been somewhere in the Top 4 teams in the east for several weeks? I didn’t until I started to cover the women’s team.

The Indiana Fever needs more support from it’s city and state. I certainly am not in Public Relations with the Fever, but I know a good, solid, ethical team when I see one and they’re deserving of some kudos.

As for the Brickyard 400? Well… it’s hot as hell outside!

Paul George Goes to the Pacers

by Jim Johnson

The Indiana Pacers announced their No. 10 pick of Paul George from Fresno State in the NBA Draft and then the majority of the fans who showed up for the Indiana Pacers Draft Party left.

It was kind of weird. When I showed up to Conseco Fieldhouse, I walked into the arena to see thousands of fans watching the draft. After the announcement, I went to Jim O’Brien’s press conference, went back to the arena when George was addressing the crowd – or what was left of the crowd.

Probably three-quarters of the crowd was gone! They weren’t there anymore. They left. The Indiana Pacers still had two picks left and the chance to still get two decent players, but everyone was gone – well, almost everybody.

The event at Conseco Fieldhouse was very nice. Apparent that a lot of people put a lot of time into planning and preparing for the party. And they did a great job.

What happened, however, is Paul George didn’t create any, or at least not much, interest in the fans. Fresno State? Chances are, nobody has seen him play before.

O’Brien even said the first time he saw him play was just weeks ago in Chicago.

“I’ve liked this kid for a month,” O’Brien said. “He’ll be able to contribute right away.”

O’Brien likes George. Whether fans like him or not, he’s here to stay. He’s not a player they are going turn around and trade before the draft is over.

“We drafted him for us,” O’Brien said. He added that George has “tremendous potential.”

Indiana isn’t going to be any better this upcoming season than they were last season. It’s hard for players to give a damn when the city doesn’t even give a rats tail. There’s no excitement for them to get caught up in. Pretty much nothing to play for.

As of now, Danny Granger is still with this Indiana team and still has the opportunity to be the franchise player. He has to be. If he stays in Indianapolis, there’s no other option. He’s the fan favorite and he’s the leader whether he likes it or not. This is the ONLY time a guy like Danny Granger will have the opportunity to be a franchise player and it’s the only way Indiana will be able to climb out of the hole they’ve been in for several years.

A No. 10 draft pick doesn’t pull them out and Ron Artest’s words certainly don’t turn things around.

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