Amato: McLendon Should be Ready to Go
Oct. 8, 2002
By Tony Haynes
Raleigh, N.C.-Will he or won't he? T.A. McLendon's playing status for this Saturday's game at North Carolina has been a hot topic of conversation ever since NC State's freshman running back underwent surgery on his right wrist last Tuesday. During his weekly press gathering on Monday, Wolfpack coach Chuck Amato repeated what he said last week: McLendon should be able to play.
"We expect T.A. to play," Amato said, noting that McLendon would try to carry a football for the first time during Monday night's practice. "He's getting his cast re-done. He'll practice and we'll see how that new cast is going to work out and how many times we have to modify it. We've been told that he should have no problem at all playing and I believe that."
McLendon, who leads NC State in rushing yards (466) and touchdowns (10), broke the scaphoid bone in his right wrist in the first half of the Wolfpack's 56-24 victory over Massachusetts back on September 28. The injury didn't stop the two-time ACC Rookie of the Week from rushing for 117 yards and two touchdowns. The fracture was actually discovered the day after the game.
McLendon often carries the ball in his left hand, especially when running to his left. But Amato believes he'll also be able to grip the ball firmly in the right hand as well because he'll be fitted with a cast that allows his fingers and thumb to hang freely.
"I was kidding him last week that he would just have to carry the ball in his left hand every time," Amato said. "I don't really see it as a big factor. He played almost three quarters of that game with a broken scaphoid bone."
Greg Golden, a starter at tailback in NC State's first four games before moving back to his natural position of cornerback, will continue to get some practice reps on offense as a precautionary measure. The Wolfpack's other option at tailback is Josh Brown, who has 217 yards on 56 carries this season. Meanwhile, McLendon will be forced to play while wearing a cast for up to four weeks.
"That was the reason we decided to have the operation because we felt if we didn't operate on him, he would have to wear the cast for the rest of the season," Amato explained. "By operating on him, he'll only have to wear the cast for four weeks, which gives us three games where he won't have to have the cast on. I don't think there will be a lot of pain in there. The big thing will be handling the football. He had a lot of pain in the last three-quarters of our last game and he fought through it. He's a kid that when you hand him the ball he forgets about pain."
Last week's bye was also a bonus for middle linebacker Dantonio Burnette and center Jed Paulsen. Burnette, a senior leader of the defense, will be back this week after missing the UMass game with a thumb injury. Paulsen has been sideline for three games after suffering a knee sprain in the September 7th game at Navy.
"I think Jed will be available, and if things go well between now and then he'll start," Amato said. "He got into a lot of drills last week and they were just that--drills. It looks fine and it feels fine. Obviously, it can't be 100 percent but he feels good about it."
Paulsen is officially listed as questionable as is linebacker Avery Gibson, who has a high ankle sprain.
Noon Start for Duke Game:It was announced on Monday that NC State's home game against Duke on October 19 will begin at noon. The contest will not be televised. Airtime on the Wolfpack Radio Network for this weekend's game at North Carolina will be 11 a.m. Kickoff is officially set for 12:08 p.m.