Taylor Kelly continued his road to recovery Thursday, taking the practice field in pads with a green no-contact jersey on for the first time since the injury. While he said it's possible he could take the field against Stanford, the Sun Devils' quarterback is still taking it slow.
"I'm just taking it day by day and see how I feel," Kelly said. "I'm doing as much as I can throwing wise at practice so I'm just staying up on that."
Kelly didn't do much of anything Thursday even though he was dressed out. He wore tennis shoes through the first portion of practice, doing some light throwing and then put his cleats on. He stretched with the team and jogged a little, but never ran. In fact he never participated in any drill involving players other than the quarterbacks. He did walk around normally and didn't favor either leg. The offense ran some 11 on 0 drills which still had Bercovici taking first team snaps followed by Manny Wilkins at second team.
"We're just easing him back in a little bit, obviously we're preparing with both of them but we expect him to be back (for Stanford)," head coach Todd Graham said.
Kelly had been inactive for 26 days since the injury during the Colorado game on Sept. 13. He said his foot got rolled up on and it felt somewhat bothersome as he jogged off the field. When the doctors checked him out, they said he couldn't play the rest of the game.
"You watch it a million times and you still don’t kind of see what happened," Kelly said.
He added that he watched USC film and didn't start planning for Stanford until after the game against the Trojans. While he didn't answer whether or not he still had any pain in his foot, he did confirm that he didn't have any surgery or procedures on his foot in the past three weeks.
"It's my senior year, this team is doing a great job, but it hurt when it happened," Kelly said. " I'm trying to do as much as I can to lead and make sure this team stays on track."
It was Mike Bercovici in replacement of Kelly who tried his best to keep the team afloat. While many were taken aback with his abilities, Kelly knew what Bercovici was capable of.
"I wasn't surprised by anything he did out there with the throws and the runs and how he held himself composed because that's how he is as a player."
As the Sun Devils prepare for Stanford, they've been putting a lot of heavier sets in place to try and stop the run. One move that Arizona State played with this week was putting DJ Calhoun at SPUR linebacker and moving Antonio Longino at WILL linebacker with four down linemen.
"It's cool but it's different," Calhoun said of playing SPUR linebacker. "It's more blitzes but it's more pass coverages too, so I just have to get that down more."
Calhoun has been the best true freshman to date with 27 tackles and had nine tackles including a sack against USC. Graham said for freshmen to succeed, it's all about staying mentally tough.
"He (Calhoun) has done well, he's been great at times," Graham said. "He's physically just really talented, got a great spirit, great energy. He's just not used to the volume and information and what it takes to execute the scheme at this level."
- Laiu Moeakiola and Viliami Latu remain in green no contact jerseys and did rehabilitation work on the side.
- Jaxon Hood was not at practice today.
- Defensive walkthrough (more 4-3 defensive work)-- Linemen: Demetrius Cherry- Mo Latu- Renell Wren- Marcus Hardison. Linebackers: DJ Calhoun (SPUR)- Salamo Fiso (SAM)- Antonio Longino (WILL). Corners: Lloyd Carrington, Kweishi Brown. Safeties: Jordan Simone, Damarious Randall.
- Wren took Hood's place, Graham said he is getting a lot better at the fundamentals.
- Kyle Middlebrooks is catching more and more punts during the special teams portion of practice. Damarious Randall has worked almost exclusively as a gunner this week on punt coverage. Randall worked with graduate assistant Aaron Pflugrad on catching punts Thursday.